B*tch don’t kill my vibe

I’m a sinner who’s probably gonna sin again. 

Lord forgive me. The things I don’t understand. 

Sometimes I need to be alone. 

B*tch don’t kill my vibe. B*tch don’t kill my vibe. 

________________________________________________________

Last time we spoke, I told you how I decided to quit my job as a newspaper journalist. Some of you were slightly panicking after this read. Asking me about my next projects and stuff. Of course I couldn’t really answer this question.

I was restricted.

I couldn’t tell a soul, and things were still very much pending. It was a horrifying wait. But now I’m so very extremely relieved to announce I’m currently the proud contributor of my very own column in the newspaper.

I feel like Carrie Bradshaw in Sex and the City!

carrie-bradshaw-typing

(Minus the smoking and the Big (shoe) obsession)

Actually I’m definitely more of a Rachel kind of gal.

rachelpregnant

My first column got published Wednesday 26th of April.

IMG_1576

The basic concept is that me -a millennial- is corresponding with a baby boomer.

Picture 2017-05-05 om 01.17.53

Picture 2017-05-05 om 01.19.00

This baby boomer (her name is Frieda Joris and she’s a very respected former journalist) actually used to be a colleague of mine while I was still working full time at the newspaper. During the five years I walked around the office, we hardly exchanged a word. We were too caught up in our own thing. Researching, making phone calls, discussing with the editor-in-chief, writing, erasing, writing again, … There was no time for chit chat.

By the end of 2016 we both closed the door. She, because she had to. After a successful career of 45 years Frieda had to retire. And, after a promising career of -poor old me- only 5 years I took a sabbatical, to eventually cut the umbilical cord one year later.

We never really realized how intertwining our roads were and would become. Until we started getting in touch once the rush and the stress of the deadline slowly but surely crept out of our lives. Ironically we discovered we had much more in common than we could ever imagine. That’s how the idea grew to have a millennial and a baby boomer discuss life as they know it now.

Still a little uncomfortable in their new skins. Trying to give direction. Find balance. Keep busy. Stay productive. All while maintaining a good sense of humor. Self-mockery is rule n°1 for basic survival mkay?

And this, lovely people, is what we bring to you every Wednesday from now on in ‘Het Laatste Nieuws’. Only the biggest and best read newspaper in the small country of Belgium.

A couple of days ago our second column was released.

IMG_1565

Again, Frieda is the first to address me. (Don’t worry, next week it’s my turn). Telling me a story about how her first love suddenly showed up on her door step a gazillion years after they first met and fell in love. Of course my answer is slightly passive-aggressive. I would give my left arm (it’s ok, I’m a rightie) to have similar plot twists occur in my life. I wonder if you could hire a director to integrate more romance into your every day life.

IMG_1500

Me: “Ok guys listen up, we need dim lights, a Channing Tatum lookalike, some decent catering and cowbell. Definitely more cowbell.”

Me: “First assistant what do you think?”

cowbell

Fo Sho.

Ok romance-wise I’m not living the fairy tale. But damn this column is making up for it. It is the one thing I dreamed about ever since I started discovering my writing skills. That and writing a book. But who reads books nowadays anyway??

anchormanamIright

I feel super blessed I got the chance to explore this new way of communicating and reaching out to hopefully as many people as possible. I feel this column comes at the best moment in my life. Even though I have been wanting it for a long time, I wasn’t ready before. I didn’t really have a story to tell. And I was too insecure to speak my mind.

Now it feels super organic to talk about my every day thoughts, my occasional struggles, how small and meaningless they may be on a global scale.

Everybody struggles. Everybody hurts. Everybody loves. And everybody celebrates. It’s this constant up and down that keeps us on our toes. That keeps us alive. And that connects us. If only we would drop the act and be more open about our REAL emotions I guess a lot of people could benefit from it.

This is why I’m closing the gap. One millimeter at a time. Closing the gap between ‘showing the world how we want to be seen’ and ‘showing who we truly are’. There are too many digital platforms where we boast our personality and every day personal life into something it is mostly not. Trying to pretend everything is peachy 24/7.

 

cut

THE

crap

I’m not suggesting you should share every bad hair day, physical ache or act of domestic violence on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. (In this last case you should defo go to the police) But I see a lot of people stressing over their lives because they believe other people have their shit together all the time.

masterandservant

No Dave, I meant your other quote

↓↓

Depeche-depeche-mode-34120679-500-286

Therefor, every Wednesday, I will tell you how I don’t have my shit together all the time. About how I desperately miss some romantic dedication in my life. How I wonder what I’m supposed to do until my retirement. How I ask myself why people enslave themselves, often working a job they genuinely hate, just so they could spend a comfortable old age. Knowing, when you reach that age, you don’t have the same energy to enjoy life like you did when you were young.

Balance is key. And I’m looking for that key in order to open the door to my personal happiness. I’m sure it won’t fit your door. No one’s alike. And thank God we aren’t.

I am thankful for backpackersguidefortheblondeandtheclueless to come about one year ago. It really helped me to find my voice. Thanks to you readers I discovered this type of authentic storytelling brings an added value to everyone who needs it. It helps us to accept that we are all struggling. And it’s our DAMN good right!

Tell me what you don’t like about yourself. And let’s fix it together.

Keep it real, peeps.

XO

Man it feels good to blog again.

Road trippin’

That final morning in Gatineau, Canada.

breakfast.jpg

Celine’s husband: “Okay the car is purring like a kitten craving your love. Time for you guys to go on your road trip together.”

Me: “Err…I don’t see the truck…?”

Celine: “We’re not taking the truck. We’re taking my car.”

Me: “Your car?”

surprised

Me: “WE ARE TAKING THE MUSTANG CONVERTIBLE ON OUR ROAD TRIP???”

Celine: “Well, don’t get too excited. One ice patch and we’ll be flying. The car weighs practically nothing.”

thelma_louise_cliff-1

(…)

goodbye-my-love-o

Me: “Well we all got to go one day…”

wheel

It might as well be behind this beaut of a wheel! Start the engine sister sledge!

(Enter narrator’s voice)

And that’s how the two girls commenced their road trip in an inappropriate vehicle. Just like Harry and Lloyd in Dumb & Dumber. 

car

You: “Wait a second. Do you guys have like a mission or something?”

Me: “A mission?”

You: “Yeah, Harry and Lloyd took the car to Aspen to return that Samsonite briefcase to Mary. What’s your quest?”

Me: “Ok ahm…. Let me see… (whispering to Celine)…Uhu….Uhu…Oh yeah that’s great!”

“Ok, our mission is…

To find our Canadian Brad Pitt!”

goodnessgracious

“Howdy”

We’re mixing up a little ‘Dumb and Dumber’ with a little ‘Thelma and Louise’. To give the story that extra crunch.

bradpittt

(So much crunch…)

So off we go to our first destination on the itinerary:

quebec

QUEBEC CITY!

A little history on Quebec City:

  • It is approximately 400 years old;
  • The city’s famous landmarks include the Château Frontenac, a hotel which dominates the skyline, and La Citadelle, an intact fortress that forms the centerpiece of the ramparts surrounding the old city;
  • Quebec has played a special role in French history; the modern province occupies much of the land where French settlers founded the colony of Canada (New France) in the 17th and 18th centuries.
  • The population is predominantly French-speaking and Roman Catholic, with a large Anglophone minority, augmented in recent years by immigrants from Asia;
  • It is NOT the capital of Canada;
  • They serve Russian president as a national dish =>
poutine8_thumb1

aka ‘Poutine’ (pronounced as pooh-teen) made with thick beef gravy on French fried potatoes with fresh cheese curds. Instant cardiac arrest guaranteed.

The convertible offered just enough space to fit our luggage and a bag with food and drinks in the backseat. Since we had such a long drive ahead of us. We figured we might be up for some snacking.

footlong
(Only 15 minutes on the road)

Celine: “Can I have some hot tea please, the thermos is under your seat.”

Me: “Quite certainly, young padawan.”

Celine: “Ok whatever that is, stop doing that.”

Me: “It’s Yoda. You know those personal development tapes you listen to? He’s all about mental growth and inner strength too. You’d love him.”

Celine: “Just pour me my tea, already.”

Me: “Well it’s kinda hard with you going 80 miles an hour.”

tea

Celine: “Watch the seats. Watch the seats!”

Me: “Alright, alright, I got it.”

normal_dumb-still75
We continued down the super highway of glistening awesomeness. We slid through the icy landscapes like a knife through creamy butter. Like two smooth criminals heading towards heavenly freedom.

icetreaa
Sometimes a little too smooth, when the car would start sliding from left to right.

Celine: “Okay I gotta stop for gas. There’s a Tim Horton’s, we’ll drive through for coffee.”

Me: “Jolly, a Tim Horton’s! A large French Vanilla coffee, please.”

normal_dumb-still75

coffee

This drive is a beaut! And I am enjoying every single minute of it. Every single minute of the 270 minutes total.

retroviseur

Celine: “I’m hungry, can you get out the leftover roast and the mustard? The knife should be in my purse somewhere.”

lloyddown

In case you missed it, me taking place in the passenger’s seat of Celine’s car automatically degraded me to her co-pilot, personal assistant, snack assembler and in-flight entertainment.

It didn’t take long or we started bickering over every little thing.

bickering

Celine: “Okay, let’s just stop at this truck stop for a minute. I need to use the wash room.”

truckstop1

Me: “Yeah, I could go for a quick pee too.”

lloyd peeing.jpeg

“And maybe another French Vanilla.”

Celine: “You’re really liking that French Vanilla hey?”

ilikeitalot

Celine: “Every time we pass a Tim Horton’s you get all excited.”

Me: “Well it’s about the most excitement I’ll have this weekend. I have a cold sore on my lip and I’m on my period. This joy ride is out of business!”
(There’s a small chance I might have used a slightly more vulgar vocabulary)

Celine: “Gee, you kiss your mother with that mouth?”

Me: “It’s probably where I got the cold sore from in the first place.”

roadtrip

Celine: “You’re grose”

A couple of hours and treats later …

bagel

… we finally arrive in QUEBEC CITY! Celine had booked us an Airbnb for the night, about 20 minutes away from the old town. We stayed with Sylvain, a middle-aged divorced guy who lived with his cat Fallah.

miss-glitterbox

There was a little Quebec kitty in Quebec city.

I called her Miss Glitterbox since I had accidentally spilt a bunch of glitter on her fur.

Sylvain has two spare bedrooms he rents out almost daily to complete strangers. There was a guy from Halifax in one room. And me and Celine shared a bed in the other. But we didn’t feel like staying in all evening.

That night Celine and I hit the old town. We decided to walk around a little bit and maybe stop for a hot coco. We decided not to have alcohol and clean our bodies from all the holiday overindulging. Well, that was a short lived resolution. First stop we made, I ordered an Italian coffee and Celine had herself a bucket of red wine.

italiancoffee

French Vanilla with a twist.

I was still feeling telepathic since my strange moment at the supermarket the day before our road trip. I was sitting in the backseat of the big pick up truck while Celine’s husband hopped into the store to get milk. While we were waiting I had this sudden slip of the tongue and spoke the words: “My god, I want cookies!”

Two minutes later, Thomas returned to the car and threw a bag of Gingerbread Boys on the backseat right in my lap.

Thomas: “Look you guys, I got some free cookies from the lady at the counter.”

I was so amazed by my Jedi powers, I decided to try them out on Celine tonight. While I was sitting in front of her, enjoying my Italian coffee, I wondered if my mind could set her on fire.

cup

Eventhough I thought it, it didn’t happen. Maybe because I didn’t really want her to burst into flames. I was just curious if I could force my mind that way…

fire.gif

We finished our drinks, decided to leave the bar and walk a bit further. But the wind was so cold it felt as if Mother Nature was pricking needles into my face.

Me: “Gee, I don’t think I can walk much further. I can’t feel my face!”

Celine: “Ok let’s just go in here.”

We entered a huge echoing hallway with christmas trees lining up all the way to the back of the corridor. I knew this place. It was the chateau Frontenac! I remembered it from my Wikipedia search! It was one of the landmarks!

The place was majestic. This is where the rich and famous hang out alright!

slipwith

I felt kind of out of place wearing my Kung Fu sweatpants and custom made Blonde/Clueless long sleeve.

tuxedo

Celine: “Where do you wanna sit?”

Me: “Let’s sit by the bar. Put out the vibe.”

puttingoutthevibe

selfiechateau

It was all fun and games until we looked at the menu

Me: “Wow these prices are through the roof. The cheapest thing on here is actually a glass of champagne. A little bit of the bubbly it is.”

ddprosecco

Unfamiliar voice: “What accent is that you’re speaking?”

I turned over and saw a dude and another dude installing themselves on the seats next to us.

Me: “It’s english. Du’uh.” (These dumbass quebecians and their poor anglo knowledge (*see history on Quebec City ↑ ))

barlloyd

I thought it was the lamest pick up line I had ever heard. If these bozos think they can sit with us, they got the wrong idea.

Celine in the background: “Hahahahaha”

Err… that was clearly not including Celine. She was getting along nicely with the two gents.

Me hissing: “Don’t invite them, they could be vampires.”

Celine: “Oh shut up, it’s a good thing they still want to sit with us. Your purse is scaring people away!”

purgepurse

My little Dracula coffin I bought in Toronto (<3) did get some mixed reviews…

I didn’t think of them to be all that interesting. But the other one was quite cute. After an hour of talking to them and a couple of glasses later, the barman was closing up.

bartender

Me: “Well it was lovely meeting you. Bye bye now.”

The dudes: “Hey you girls feel like continuing this party at our place? We live just a 10 minute walk away from here.”

Me: “Oh, I don’t think..”

Celine: “Ok!”

Me: “Wait, what? I’m not going home with these two. I barely know them and I don’t really like them that much. Why do you wanna go with them? Are you in heat or something??”

(…)

Wait a hot minute!  Maybe I didn’t really set Celine on fire physically. But maybe I had lit some other fire. Some kind of desire inside of her!

Son of a bee sting, I unleashed the beast!

lloyd

Me: “Okay guys my friend is actually a little tired, she just doesn’t realize it yet. We’re going back to our Airbnb. See ya.”

The dudes: “Are you sure?”

Me:

instinct

Celine: “Well if we don’t go home with them we can still go have drinks with them.”

Me: lloyd-napkin

Before I knew it we were in a taxi on our way to ‘Cuisine’. A funky little bar in downtown Quebec where we could dance to new wave music, play video games and apparently order some shots of Black Russian.

I was very cautious. I didn’t want to end up in a real life ‘Taken’ sequel. What if they were serial killers?

mentalshay_3780

Or rapists?

a-few-facts-about-a-little-movie-known-as-dumb-and-dumber-20-photos-181

Me to Celine: “What are we doing here? It’s not like either one of these dudes is our Brad Pitt. Heck, we weren’t even supposed to drink alcohol tonight.”

Celine: “Oh just stop being all paranoid and just enjoy the moment.”

lloyddown

I gave it another go but after an hour I got all bored and decided to play video games on the little Super Nintendo in the corner. There I was. The little geek in the corner on a Thursday night. When I was GAME OVER I decided it was time to pull Celine out of there right in time before she could take her sweater off and go loose in her tank top. Gee, what have I done to this woman! I’m never using my Jedi mind tricks again.

We said the dudes goodbye and walked away into the freezing cold. Not really knowing where we were going. It took ages to find a taxi to drive us back. When we finally did, Celine got out at a night shop on the corner of our street to get food. She bagged two bags of Cheetos with onion dip. I was glad she cheated on her diet, rather than on her husband.

The next morning I felt awful. My stomach was all queazy from all the drinks and those two guys had left a bad after taste.

ketchup

I decided to have a hot shower and freshen up for the final part of our drive: MONTREAL!

meandglitterbox

Saying goodbye to Miss Glitterbox. That’s Sylvain in the back.

And we were back on the road. And back to our old habits.

carselfie

Celine: “Could you prepare us some lunch, please? I’m hungry.”

Me: “Sure thing, young Padawan!”

I grabbed some tuna and avocado and made some excellent hors d’oeuvres on the whim!

Me: “Too bad this drive doesn’t last as long as the one we did yesterday. I quite enjoy this road trip.”

Little did I know I had wrongly used my Jedi powers again…

(One hour later)

Me: “Gee, I expected Montreal to be a lot less rockier than this.”

rockymountains

Celine: “Yeah me too…. Get the map and find out where we at.”

Me: “Err… I think we’re on our way to Alaska.”

Celine: “Fudge! There’s a road sign that says ‘Saguenay’. We’re going all the way north.”

Wow, my connection with the Universe had become crystal clear these past few days! (see previous post: ‘A Jelly Dilemma’) First the cookies. Then the fire. Now the extended road trip.

reception

Me: “I’m sorry, I wished for the drive to last longer! And now we doubled the length! This is all my fault!”

dumb-and-dumber-8

Celine: “Well…

hqdefault-4

… at least we had a nice view.”

highfive

That’s what I like about Celine. She’s such a positive little life force.

It took us about 4 hours to get to Montreal. Instead of the estimated 2.

Through rough roads and steep hills.

scooterdum

But once we were there. It was all worth it.

were-there

bridgemontreal

When we arrived at our Airbnb, we forgot all the trouble we had been through. It was the coziest place on earth smacked right into the middle of the Gay Village (the actual name of this area). It felt like coming home. Especially since there was a hammock in the living room! How comfy can you be??

screenshot_2017-01-07-17-11-13

Quite comfy!

That night we kept it cool. We went for a nice Chinese soup and I made some more business cards to hand out to random Gay Village people.

After dinner we met up with our Kung Fu friend Audrey again who was staying at her parents’ place in Montreal.

carselfieaudrey

Say ‘Qi’!

We went for  a good night hike all the way up Mont Royal to see the crucifix.

view

Montreal by night

crosslights

The Mont Royal Cross matches my purse!

By the way, some more history on Montreal:

  1. It is NOT the capital of Canada.
  2. Go look up the rest on the internet.

All together it was a wonderful night. Me and Celine didn’t get into any trouble. Instead we went to bed by midnight. And dreamt about Brad Pitt handing out blow jobs.

… With his hair dryer.

goodnessgracious

We had a little over one more day to find our guy. So we didn’t waste any more time the next day. We went looking all over town. We walked all the way down Avenue Cathérine and made our first stop at the Dollar Store. Celine needed some food and I needed some bindis to wear on our final night out.

gwen-stefani-icon-thumb-490x367

We couldn’t help but notice there were a lot of sex shops on this street. Since Celine was still not fully recovered from me setting her on fire …

giphy-5
we entered a bunch of XXX shops to have an innocent look around. Celine eventually bought herself a ‘finger puppet’. And I got myself some fishnet long sleeves. I figured it would be a great look with a little tank top underneath! Plus: from a business point of view it was a good move. I left some of my business cards with the lady behind the counter and she absolutely LOVED the name of this blog. She said she would check it out fo shizzle.

While we continued our way down town, we got a little hungry from all the sex shop hopping and went looking for some grub. After our tasty bowl from last night, we kinda both craved some more soup.

soupdujour

And that’s how we ended up at another Asian place.

noodles1noodles2noodles3

fortunecookie

I’m just in it for the fortune cookies

For dessert we went for some nice hot street tire.

You: “?”

It’s hot maple syrup on a fresh deck of snow. You place a popsicle stick at the end of one side and start curling it up to the other side. That’s how you eat tire!

The taste is super sweet. As maple syrup tends to be.

We heated ourselves by a little fire and head out. To a more nicer part of town.

boots

Stranger’s voice: “Wow that is a nice coat, young lady.”

cardigan

Lady: “No that’s a Shearling and it is very, véry nice. ”

picture-2017-01-14-om-22-23-56

Me: “Oh thank you.”

Celine and I had just entered a fur boutique when we got interrupted by the lady who happened to be one of the owners.

Lady: “I gotta call somebody to come look at this, wait right here.”

Soon entered a guy. A very very hot guy. To come look at me and my coat.

Lady: “Isn’t this the nicest Shearling ever?”

The guy nodded and kept his eyes on my coat.

Me: “Well, this is a little awkward. I didn’t know it was this special. I bought it for 50 euros at a second hand store in Belgium.”

The two both started laughing.

Me: “Oh, is that too much?”

Lady: “No dear, these coats usually go for way more.”

Very very hot guy: “You could get up to 1600 Canadian dollars for this coat.”

Great Odin’s raven! I’m rich!

furrr

Trying on some other coats that were almost as nice as my Shearling.

clapping

All the hot fur action aside, it was already in the afternoon and we still hadn’t find our Brad Pitt. I was getting a little bit worried. So we put our two brain halfs together over dinner.

We figured he might perform in one of the strip bars around the corner as a male entertainer. When you have a body like that, you got to make some kind of living out of it…

dishes2

“Or maybe he works as a plumber? A stripper plumber!”

To a live nude bar it is!

food

We got all ready for our big and final night out.

gettingready

spray

But ended up going to a live music bar instead.

Half way through our walk through town, we changed our minds and decided to not support the local sex slave industry.

bluesjojo

We had some wine. Some nice live blues music. And some poutine with duck on the side! No male entertainers. But it was the best last night in Montreal I could ever wish for.

bluesjojo

Bar à Jojo ❤

We were in bed by midnight so we could wake up early the next day and enjoy a nice Sunday together. Also our last day together.

Over breakfast, we got the word that Value Village, a big second hand store, was doing a big sale.

valuevillage

“50 per cent off??? That’s almost getting stuff for free!”

Since we had to check out of the apartment anyway, we got dressed as fast as we could and rushed out of there in no time.

Well… I did have to go to the bathroom first to get my excitement out…

And last night’s dinner.

shitface

I don’t know if it was the poutine or the poo-theen but I poo-clogged the toilet big time.

Good advice: go easy on the toilet paper if you’re ever in Canada. They don’t have toilets like ours and it’s not enjoyable having to unclog the toilet when the owner is sleeping in the room next door, overhearing everything you do.

Film and Television

“Sorry buddy”

With that out of my system. And in the poor guy’s sewer system. We stuffed the convertible like a Christmas turkey and drove it all the way to Value Village a 15 minute drive away.

Me: “Look at these joggers jogging on these icy curbs. They’re c…”

Celine: “-razy?”

Me: “Well I was gonna go with courageous. Let’s just call them COU-RAZY!”

“Hé Celine, look at how fast I’m racing to Value Village!”

runninglloyd

When we finally arrived we nose dove between the racks of clothes, grabbing everything we had our eye one, trying everything on for size, and dressing up for fun. I eventually found two coats, one sweater and some other things I can’t remember, for less than 30 euros total.

pete

This kid Billy even bought a parakeet for only 15 bucks!

But there was no way I could fit all this into my teeny-tiny backpack. If I wanted to buy all this stuff, I had to buy another suitcase to take on board with me.

The moment I thought it -and put it out there for the universe to hear- there it was….

As if it was sitting there waiting for me.

A beautiful beige brown carry-on suitcase for only 7 Canadian Dollars. I flipped it open and it was in perfectly good shape. The interior was all golden brown retro and as good as new. When I flipped it over to look at the specifications, there it was…..

SAMSONITE.

No way!

This can’t be! It was about the briefcase all along!

(Enter narrator’s voice)

And that’s how the girl brought the Samsonite suitcase back to the airport. Filled with valuable bargains. And priceless memories. 

samsonite

maryairport

Thank you Celine. For everything.

XO

The END

A jelly dilemma

After the previous entry about illegal substances, we’re taking it the next step further and stay in the forbidden candy department.

You: Speed? LSD? XTC? Molly? Miley?

miley

Me: “Nope, jelly beans.”

You: “They don’t have drugs in them … Do they?!”

Of course not, how off the handle do you think I am? However, Celine’s son was supposed to bring some edibles to the NYE party but that plan got sabotaged.

jellybeans

(Robert Downey Jr is so great in this movie ‘Tropic Thunder’. You know he struggled with a severe drug addiction at one point in his career? One day he was driving around with a trunk full of drugs like he was Raoul Duke-ing his way to Vegas. fear-and-loathing

He pulled over to have a burger at Burger King and was so disgusted by what he ordered he then tossed all of his drugs into the ocean, deciding then and there to clean up his act. Last year he was the most lucrative actor of 2016 earning 1,1 billion dollars. It’s one of the most impressing and inspiring stories.)

emma-stone-nodding_lgcni4.gif

mariah-carey-rep-responds-to-rumors.jpg

“I wish I could make a glorious comeback like that.”

emma-stone-nodding_lgcni4

Anyway. Having brought this interlude to the table…

ludes.gif

… It’s time we get this story going.

So no drugs for me on New Year’s so I had some yummy jelly beans instead. It was the first time I tried these sugary bullets of pure happiness. I had a hand full and threw them all behind my grinders one by one. At one point there were only two left.

The dopamines in the sugar had brought me into an elevated state of being. Like I was in a vortex, levitating like a human lotus.
lotus.jpg

There was a voice inside my head commanding me to chose a jelly bean. My inner Morpheus. One jelly bean would bring me back to two years ago. Where I had my own house, my future to be husband, my career. And all this wandering around would just have been a wicked dream.

The other jelly bean symbolized the continuation of this adventure track. The not-knowing, the risks, the adventures, the dangers, the butterfly I have been chasing down this rabbit hole. Sliding down the big question mark. Not knowing if the stairs of this organic life will go up or down.

catupordown

Pussy going down. Or up?

It struck me but I hesitated way longer than I would have thought. There was some part inside of me that wanted it all back. For the first time.

I was conflicted.

There was a part of me that wanted to go back to my old life. Suddenly.

So I turned to my spiritual guide woman.

theoa.jpeg

Me to Celine: “Hi woman, I’m feeling all hormonal. I have these weird feelings and thoughts in my gut and gulliver.”

Celine: “Spill it.”

Me: “It’s all fresh snow in the beginning but after a while it gets slushy. I don’t know if this gypsy life will continue to benefit me?”

Celine: “Well sometimes you have to go through a little mud to get to where you want to be.”

Me: “Like a lotus?”

Celine: “Yeah like a lotus.”

Me: “Well if I only knew where I want to get…”

Celine: “Ok, here’s what you got to do. Take a piece of paper and write down the three things you want to create for yourself in 2017. No, wait, write down the ten things and pick out three that are most important to you.”

Me: “Ok…”

The three words that shot into my head were:

  1. LOVE
  2. COMFORT
  3. SECURITY

Any other day and I would have chosen:

  1. LOVE
  2. ADVENTURE
  3. CLOTHES

But these were my words of choice today. Which was very interesting… And very conservative for my taste.

I continued to scribble on the piece of paper. And came up with a bunch of stuff that I want to (continue to) create for myself in the new year.

4. CONTROL/STABILITY
I am an adrenalin junkie and I love being able to just take a chance every once and a while but it’s not how I want to spend every hour of my life. I want to live an adventurous one but still have a certain amount of control and stability to balance things out. When I feel like I don’t have control and things just slip between my fingers like sand, I get stressed.

5. A SCHEDULE
Not a fix routine or anything but I ❤ a schedule that gives me time to do stuff before and after I go to work. Sit on my bicycle, walk around in my own head, go and have a coffee somewhere. I don’t want to be caught in a rat race.

6. NO STRESS
Being able to turn off the phone and have a quiet evening. No stress. No traffic. No last minute work things that can come up.

7. MONEY
I feel good about having money and being financially independent. Money gives me freedom to do what I want.

8. FREEDOM
I love this feeling of being free, being able to go places and not have as much stuff as I used to. It feels great to have just enough and to have an overview.

9. HEALTH
Actually this one should be way up! But I guess it’s part of ‘2. COMFORT’ since I want to continue feeling comfortable in my body (not being sick, injured, etc) and also in tune with my body and mind.

10. HAPPINESS
I’m so happy, thankful and grateful for everything the universe has given me. The privilege of being a human emotional being. Being able to feel, see, smell, touch, taste, learn and grow. Also being able to let go of things and to rise with resilience.

***

It made me feel really good to write all of this stuff down. I encourage every one of you to take a paper and do the same thing. I always thought it was bad to plan stuff in advance, as if it would take away all the impulsiveness and surprise but there is plenty of room for improvisation. This just helps you to sort your priorities out and man does it feel good to have those! Otherwise you just feel like a missile being launched into outer space, not knowing where to hit so you just keep orbiting and orbiting and orbiting. Burning all this precious energy, burning up before you find out your true destination and reach it.

If I can continue to live in this mindset then 2017 will be a sweet year. Just like 2016 has been a sweet year for  me. All the traveling I did, all the challenges I faced, all the things I learned. What 2016 has definitely generated for me is getting me de-constipated.

shitface.gif

Figure of speech.

It feels great to have such a natural flow now. To speak my mind, to dare to show myself to others, to share bits of my life, to videotape my journey and make aftermovies and snapchat stories for you guys to see.

I write openly, live my life openly and encourage people to live their lives according to their own needs and desires. I connect to people. And they connect to me. It is a wonderful state of being.

ilikeitalot.gif

Speaking about connecting to people. Some freaky shit happened these past couple of days. Things I could only describe to be: big time sign posts.

It all happened when I stayed at Alain (Celine’s dad)’s place in Toronto. He’s a chef with some big catering company in the city. But he’s also a Reiki master. It’s not something he talks about. If Celine wouldn’t have casually mentioned, I wouldn’t have known. But I knew from the first time I spoke to him, that there was this kind of centeredness about him. And he’s super fit. He’s pushing 70 but still hasn’t got one grey hair on his head and still takes his backpack out to go to Mexico and Belize by himself. His place looks like it’s almost falling apart but everything is harmonized according to the principles of Feng Shui. He has these spiritual proverbs hanging on his walls and a ton of books filled with wisdom and knowledge. I couldn’t help but grab one that was on the table. It looked like some kind of astrology almanac. He saw me pick out the book and gently took it from me asking me what day I was born.

He looked and looked and looked as if he was digging through the layers of years.

Alain: “Ah, here it is. October 19 1988. Aquarius Moon. Mh.”

Me: “‘Mh’? What does ‘Mh’ mean? Is that good or..”

Alain kept his eyes on the page and replied with another grunt. He even added a pair of raised eyebrows to it. Not really clearing anything up for me.

Me: “What’s Aquarius moon??”

Alain: “Well, it’s good. It means you’re a warrior.”

Me:

surprised.gif

A warrior?

I went to check what else it said:

  • You are likely to be a unique and somewhat progressive individual. There may be something about you that somehow “separates” you from everybody else;
  • When an Aquarian Moon individual has a clear idea, they are unlikely to easily change it.
  • Your position as someone already ‘on the outside’ gives you the ability to interpret the world around you from an often unique point of view.
  • With the Moon here, you may also tend to operate as an outsider or lone wolf, preferring to maintain a detached view that is only possible from the outskirts.
  • Often, this born with the Moon feel very different from the environment in which they grow up. The outsider experience is felt at a very early age. Accordingly, you may be so aware of your unique qualities that you tend to instinctively keep yourself separate from others.
  • Others will find you refreshing to be around because your ability to remain calm and civil can be especially sort out. Your vision and imagination is collective rather than personal, and you may be instinctively attuned to the future, able to sense what is on the horizon through reading the mood of the status-quo.
  • This position can also suggest a degree of eccentricity, and you may be highly original in some way. If you have creative interests then this placement can give a very unorthodox way of seeing the world.
  • Aquarius is also a sign associated with radical change, and you may find that you have a need to rebel or break away from situations you perceive as being stagnant. Your need for freedom can manifest in many ways, and you are likely to best in relationship with others who understand the need to give you space.
  • As the Moon can also describe how you experience home, you may tend to move around a lot. This position can suggest a person who needs to experience constant change and fluctuation in the regular circumstances of their life. You are likely to prefer light and airy places that give you an overall view.
  • At its best, Aquarius is an egalitarian and freedom-loving sign.
  • Born with the Moon here, you are likely to have an innate need to establish space and equality in your own and others lives.
  • Your sense of objectivity is your best asset, and your ability to connect with others is based mostly on your capacity to simply see others for who they are.
  • As a civilized being, you thrive in situations that bring people and conversation together. Though at times you may feel the outsider, life will always go best for you when you find your own like-minded group.
  • Deeply original, you will have a flair for independent analysis and thinking outside the box. You can be a great friend and supportive colleague through your ability to see the human condition in all its myriad and amazing forms.  
kungfupanda.gif

“FINALLY!”

This is so empowering. Most of the time I felt I was making a chaos out of my life but everything I do is just textbook ME. The constant moving from one place to another, the freedom seeking, breaking away from things that are stagnant, the thinking outside of the box, daring to be expressive and eccentric, having pure values like equality, objectivity, filtering out bad ego, … Wauw!

suprised

“Feed me more knowledge!”

Unfortunately Alain had to scram, leaving for Ottawa to stay at Celine’s house so me and her could stay at his place and explore Toronto together.

picture-2017-01-05-om-05-07-03

I stayed at his apartment for three days being in ultimate peace. Everywhere I looked I felt inspired by words surrounding me. Every book or box I opened spoke to me. Like the box of tarot cards I opened with the first card being the angel Gabriel suggesting me to keep a diary and to write shit down. The book of happiness I found in the bathroom suggesting me to keep a healthy ego and to choose transcendence over desire. The apartment was right on the corner of the Lucky Coin laundromat. I grew up in a street with a laundromat on my corner. It was all so very familiar and so interstellar. As if there were patterns everywhere.

On our last night in Toronto, right before Celine and I would leave for Ottawa and stay at her place, we had one last supper at the New Ho King, a Chinese restaurant. At the end of our meal we received a platter with fortune cookies. Each of us took a random cookie and we opened it simultaneously.

Celine’s cookie stated: “You are sympathetic to the problems of others.”

My cookie stated: “The time is right to make new friends.”

Catch the joke: we were sitting there with Celine’s friends Mel (yeah, the one with the pot) and Erin, just having had a wonderful dinner with really meaningful, funny and positive conversations. And they too had just opened a tailor made fortune cookie!

fb_img_1483000036132

This was all sooooo nice. And the next day, when I randomly took a newspaper in a coffee shop and bumped into my horoscope it read:

 ‘The self in exile remains the self, as a bell unstruck for years is still a bell’, writes poet Jane Hirshfield. I suspect that these words are important for you to hear as you prepare for 2017. My sense is that in the past few moths your true self has been making its way back to the heart of life after a time of wandering on the outskirts. Any day now, a long-silent bell will start ringing to herald your full return. Welcome home!”

After a 6 hour train ride, I was so happy to be reunited with Alain and Celine’s family once we arrived at Ottawa, two days before the end of the year. Even Audrey, our Kung Fu friend who’s also from Canada, came to have a sleepover. After 8 months the Kung Fu Angels were reunited.

kungfuangels

We had a nice dinner, watched a movie and the next morning we had breakfast and Audrey left for Montreal.

In the afternoon Alain and I had picked up the wonderful idea to go snowshoeing in the forest. We both looked at it as a way to finish the last day of the year on a high note. We had never snowshoed before. But we figured we’d manage, since we’re both backpackers and all.

20161231_140930

Hot date with Celine’s dad.

Funny thing: his daughters never call him ‘dad’. They always address him with his first name. But when they do, it sounds like Frau Farbissina, the right hand of Dr. Evil in Austin Powers, when she orders to send in the clones.

fraufarbissina

“ALAIN!”

I had a first walk with Alain in the snow on Christmas day. It’s nice to pick his brain, but I also enjoy to quietly be in his presence. And just let our energy fields play like arctic wolves in the snow.

Alain: “This is awesome. I will definitely add this to my bucket list.”

Me: “Oh yeah definitely!”

… “Wait, whut? Did you say add?”

Alain: “Yeah, I think it’s better to add than to remove.”

Me:

mindblown

Mind => blown

How deep, yet so simple. Alain just made my universe explode to expansion.

20161231_142358

Following in big footsteps here. Also literally.

While I was still recovering from my mind being blown, Alain suddenly paused in front of me and turned towards me as if he was going to release something ponderous onto the world.

Alain: “It’s time to make a snow angel!”

He let his body fall into the snow as if he would plump down into a big bean bag. He didn’t really make the wings. The imprint looked more like a fat cherub, but the timing was very amusing.

As we made our way back through this thick, ever spreading blanket of snow, with our big snow shoes on, I had a big deja vu.

picture-2017-01-02-om-00-49-00

Not that I had been here before but I definitely experienced something similar. Two years ago I rang in the New Year in Dubai. Exactly this time of year I was walking in the vast desert. Over endless hills of sand.

received_10204674111485723

Now I was doing the same in the snow. On January 2nd 2015 I went to a water amusement park and tubed down a huge water slide. January 2nd 2017 I went tubing in the snow. And I didn’t plan any of those activities, they just got handed to me by chance. Maybe by faith.

received_10204674113205766

I even visited a liminal space between life and death when I was in the UAE. Disguised as an art expo. 

I don’t know if this is all just a big coincidence or if history just has a way of repeating itself or wanting to be understood. Or predicted even. But I’m sure there is some spiritual analogy to it. Some hidden message I’m not ready to see yet. As if I can’t get in tune with the universe because of some bad reception or something. Something blocking the message.

reception

“Hello?”

Well since I have this newly found trust in the universe, I know I will get the message when I’m ready. But I will sleep with one eye open. I wouldn’t want to miss the rise of the aquarius moon. Or the awaited ringing of the long-silent bell.

I’m ready for my return.distanceyourselffromthenegative

emma-stone-nodding_lgcni4

That, and I would also like to add I won’t let anyone poo, pee or even fart on me in 2017. That would be my new year’s resolution.

Just sayin’.

emma-stone-nodding_lgcni4

Enter narrator’s voice: 

And that’s how …

You: “Evvy, wait!”

Narrator: “How rude…”

You: “Did you take the red or the blue jelly bean?”

# ‘Narrator.007’ has left this conversation #

Me: “Neither. My stomach got all queazy so I switched to chocolate chip cookies. Don’t know what their metaphor was but they sure tasted nice! Don’t forget to write down what you want to create for yourself in 2017! Make it work like a charm!”

Nama-stay real y’all! 

XO

 

Smoking the mistletoe

After our Christmas celebrations, Celine and I got ready for a three day layover in Toronto. It would just be the two of us, Thelma & Louise-ing.

thelma

I was super stoked. Toronto is supposed to be an awesome city with a very multi-cultural community and a lot of artistic neighborhoods. Just get a load of Kensington, a very bright neighborhood. You got China Town, India Town, Greek Town, The Village, University campuses, you name it! PLUS: It’s Jim Carrey’s birth town and the backdrop of ‘Scott Pilgrim vs The World’.

tumblr_mqyzrhupus1r9nm7io1_500

Look that’s Toronto in the back right there ❤

And Rihanna filmed her ‘Work’ video clip on the corner of Gerrard Street.

screenshot_2016-12-28-16-36-00

AWESOME!

Wherever I was going I felt I was walking in a movie decor. The little houses with the little porches, the drug stores, the coffee and book shops on the corners, the big street car, … It all felt really American. And very non European. Just the way I like it.

picture-2017-01-01-om-23-28-43

The three days would be simple: just enjoy our time in the city, walk around and meet up with some friends of Celine. One of her friends even ended taking us up all the way to Niagara Falls.

niagara2

All this water => filling up my bladder

But before I could see the falls I had to go through a haunted mansion. There were three levels of scariness.

  1. Vanilla scary shit
  2. Super scary shit
  3. Hardcore scary shit

I didn’t know what I was signing up for. It was Celine’s friend Ryan who bought the tickets and pushed me to get in.

Literally.

It was pitch dark and there were things moving and invisible zombies and demons yelling and whispering. I couldn’t help but walk through the maze of terror with my hands over my ears hoping for it to be over as soon as possible. I could only come up with one thing to save my life:

whatwouldbuffydo

But I wasn’t impressed with myself at all. What a ridiculous vampire slayer I would be.

buffybeforesheslayed

Anyway, for the next part of this story it’s probably good to know we arrived in Toronto on the second day of Christmas. We got to borrow Celine’s dad’s bachelor pad and on the same night we were supposed to meet up with her friend Mel who lives in an apartment uptown. She invited us over for tea and crumpets.

img-20161227-wa0008

All ready to hit the town!

We took the subway and the street car and a firm 30 minutes later we arrived at the apartment building. As we entered Mel’s unit it was almost as if we stepped into an oven.

chandler

The fumes alone would get us baked.

It had seemed Mel was having her good friend Mary Jane over.

And I’m not talking about a person.

You: “A robot?”

Me: “Herbs.”

Mel: “Come on in, make yourself right at home. Care for a glass of red? I got you guys some chips, dips and sweet popcorn.”

I sat down on her couch and almost knocked over the ashtray with doobie butts.

The place reeked so much, I had a little trouble breathing regularly.

why-do-people-smoke-weed.png

I’m not opposed to weed or anything. I actually like being in the presence of potheads. Seeing people get high relaxes me too. And occasionally I would take a hit or two if somebody offered. Just never that much. One time I got really sick off some freaky weed and puked my guts out for 5 hours straight. I made the fatal error of getting shit faced first and high after. Not my most elegant outing in 2016.

stewie

But I figured I would be up for some Christmas tree burning right about now.

christmastreesmokes

And whilst we’re at it smoke all of the other christmas decorations.

After all we were the second day of Christmas. And being the diligent student I am, I didn’t finish my wine but went straight for the pot.

ganji

Me to Celine: “Let’s get Chinese eyes dude!”

I puffed the magic dragon back in China. It was the bees knees! I was curious how the stuff would taste here. And if it would taste anything like maple syrup.

maple-leaf-or-pot-leaf-2-8612-1455731239-4_dblbig

This stoner circle was the bong! It felt like such a natural thing to do. Weed is far more accepted here in Canada than it is in Europe. They’re even legalizing it in 2017. What a lovely timing to be here.

stonercircle

After 30 minutes I was starting to feel a little to a lotta light headed. The room started dancing. And I had to interrupt our conversation for an important communication service:

toasted

I don’t remember what we were talking about but I remember not participating in the conversation. I just watched Celine’s mouth opening and closing and stared at it while the wallpaper was raining down the wall.

that-70-s-show-fanart-that-70s-show-23419023-500-380

I think I picked up on a talk about how time doesn’t exist and how you can control your future with your mind. All this happened while carnival videos from Trinidad were playing in the background.

Mel: “Evelien, what is your take on this subject?”

dinosaurs

Me:

sailormoonstoned

Mel: You’re really liking that popcorn, hey? Here, why don’t you finish the rest of the production line.

On our way home I fell asleep 15 times on the tram. And we were only on there for about 7 minutes.

I was so sleepy, I just wanted to go home and cosy up to Lucy.

Youjackie-chan-meme

“TAKE LSD?”

No kiss the dog Lucy. Our home girl.

img-20161227-wa0002

So baked.

screenshot_2016-12-28-11-04-02

Gimme some of that sweet sweet sugar.

The next day we kept it cool and walked around the city. I had the lucid idea of going to the dollar store and buying me some DIY stuff to make business cards.

The plan was to leave them all over town in coffee shops, thrift stores and the metro station. Ya know, spam the hood. Get the word out.

20161228_132309

Fab people casually loving BGftBC at Reflections Vintage store

Enter narrator’s voice: 

And that’s how the girl from Belgium made a splashin’ entrance in the throbbing town of Toronto. Ready for whatever adventure’s next on her itinerary: Ottawa, Quebec and Montréal.

screenshot_2016-12-27-18-28-18

(I’m on a moose)

=> Read all about my New Year’s resolutions next time on the blog. And my hot date with Celine’s dad ^^

picture-2017-01-02-om-00-49-00

Peace out
Smoke mouth

XO

Mrs. Grinch

* It’s that time, Christmas time is here
Everybody knows there’s not a better time of year
Hear that sleigh, Santa’s on his way
Hip, Hip Hooray, for Christmas Vacation*

Writing Saturday morning December 24th, 2016.
I wake up in a children’s bed in Guelph, Ontario, Canada.

Celine had let me borrow her niece’s bed for my first Canadian night. I rub the dream crusts out of my eyes, scratch the poor ol’ gulliver and take a look outside the window.

20161225_114022

Behold a wonderful white deck of fresh snow. The white Christmas I was dreaming of.

Tonight’s my very first American Christmas and I feel super charged. Rumor has it we’re celebrating in Mono Mill, a town a little over an hour away. We’re expected at the Christmas dinner table of Stephanie’s (Celine’s sister) in-laws. And since the place is so far away we’re taking our sleeping gear with us to spend the night all together. And spend another Christmas day filled with food and candies the day after!

elf-film-still-with-will-ferrell

(I love my candies)

So at about 4 pm, after spending the entire afternoon in our onesies watching ‘The Polar Express’ we start to get ready to take the drive up to the North Pole. Err, I mean Mono Mill.

polarexpress

All aboard!

countingheads

Counting: Celine, Celine’s three sons, Celine’s husband, Celine’s dad, Celine’s sister, her husband, her two kids and Kevin, ahm, I mean me 🙂

Just before we got out of the house and into the car I had a chance to Skype my parents and wish my family back in Belgium a Merry Christmas. They were already rounding up their Christmas celebrations. Having dessert. Unwrapping presents. Topped with some annual good old drama.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my family but every year for Christmas there’s always a little bit of tension going on. I guess that’s what happens when you have a bunch of different minds and characters crammed into one space together. I was looking forward to a drama-free Christmas and checked with Celine in advance if her family usually has a lot of dramas this time of year.

Celine: “No, we don’t. But this year is a little different since we’re invited over to spend Christmas with my sister’s in-laws. There will be some neighbors and other people I’ve never met before.”

Me: “I see…”

Either way, I was feeling pretty good about it. And I couldn’t wait to get my hands on that Canadian turkey! Gobble gobble!

Too bad it exploded the day before…

dryturkey

Just kidding.

A firm hour and a pair of numb butt cheeks later, we arrive at Casa Christmas! The place is beautiful. And huge! We’re sleeping over with 15 people and there will be a total of 20 something people coming over to have dinner. Inside the house is decorated with wooden floors, a big American kitchen, christmas lights and a stunning tree. I feel at home right away! Especially since Leona and Carl, who were hosting, were such nice and welcoming people.

Leona and Carl: “Say, you’re not Chinese.”

redkitty

Me: “Ahm…no I’m not…”

Leona and Carl: “Well we thought you would have been since we heard Celine had met you in China. How funny we just assumed, right!”

016-that-70s-show-theredlist

Me: “Hilarious :-)”

Carl: “So where are you from then?”

Me: “I live in Belgium.”

Carl: “Belgium hey? Well sit down I’ll get you some Canadian brew.”

Waw, what a lovely home. I was just about to print out some adoption papers to slip under these people’s noses later tonight when all of a sudden the door bell rings.

Leona: “Oh hi-de-ho neighbors come on in!”

It was a woman of around 60 with her two daughters and her husband coming through the front door. They looked like a lovely family. No drama hazard here!

griswolds

*Hip hip hooray for Christmas vacation*

I hopped over to go meet them and shake their hand when I suddenly came across a fifth person entering with the bunch.

thegrinch

Grandmother Margaret.

Better known as ‘Marg’. A 5 foot 8 dame that has been walking this planet for 81 years straight. Unlike her daughter Debbie she doesn’t live next door but in an apartment in Toronto. She just tagged along for the occasion.

grinchanddaughter

Marg and her daughter Debbie checking out the hors d’oeuvres.

Her fingers were incredibly long and lean, I noticed, when she came over to shake everybody’s hand.

grinchhand

When she arrived over to where I was seated -minding my own business, quietly enjoying my Canadian brew- she hunched over to me, sniffed up my perfume, looked me straight in the eye and asked:

“And who might you be dear?”

grinch

Me: “Err, my name is Evelien. I’m Celine’s adopted Chinese daughter…*grin grin*”

Marg: “A smarty mouth hey?”

Me: “No, ma’am. I’m just visiting from Belgium. I come in peace.”

She didn’t bother to go into the conversation any deeper and continued her stroll around the house.

Marg: “Thank you for having me Leona, …

socialinteractiongrinch

Leona: “Oh no problem dear. What can I get you to drink?”

Marg: “You know my drink. Rye with ginger ale and water.”

Leona: “Coming right up!”

I was amazed by this woman. She was turning 82 next week but she was walking around the house as if she was the Queen B. She had this super intense aura over her and -by the looks of it- enjoyed male attention very much. Except for that of her son in law. You could tell she hated his guts. When he accidentally knocked over a cup of coffee, her eyes shot laser beams.

grincheyes

jerk

Apparently he had always let her walk all over him and never managed to get rid of her bullying since. He was whipped.

Marg: “So have they got houses like this where you come from, Evelien?”

I was a little offended by her asking me a question like that. As if I came from some hillbilly country where we live in containers. But I guess she was just looking for a fresh and spineless fiddle to fiddle. I wouldn’t let her tickle my nerves that easy. She likes to provoke people and make them feel uncomfortable in her presence. I looked through her game straight away. Heck, I invented that game.

Me: “Yeah we have houses. We build houses like crazy.”

Marg: “So what brings you to Canada for Christmas, you don’t have a family?”

Me: “Well, I’m not an orphan. My family’s at home celebrating Christmas right now. It’s ok, they understand I have places to see, people to meet. We did our Christmas dinner a week earlier.”

Marg: “So you travel a lot hey?

Me: “Yes ma’am.”

Marg: “So what do you do? In life? What do you do?”

Me: “Well …. (I decided not to give her the long story about me taking a gap year and all. I just send her off with the short summary)”

Marg: “Oh you write for the paper? Do you have any kids? A man in your life? So you have nothing hey?”

loathegrinch

Marg sure was testing the waters there.

Me: “Nope, I’m a free bird”, I replied with a straight face.

Marg: “Hahaha, free bird hey? Good for you. I’m gonna go smoke a cigarette. Anyone who feels like joining me, I’ll be in the barn.”

I don’t know what it was that got me all worked up but I felt a tantrum coming up and I was aiming for the snack bowl.

I have nothing? That’s not true. I have a lot. It’s just not a house. Or a husband. A pension fund. A hospitalization insurance or a presently well defined job for that matter.

Next time when I meet people and they ask me what I do, imma be straight up and say:

“I’m a 28 year old kid in the middle of an existential crisis walking around with monopoly money bluffing her way through town hoping she will make it at the end of the ride. I’m freaking Peter Pan and all I want for Christmas is for Tinkerbell to light my path and to hang out with the Lost Boys.”

2016-12-29-10-14-43

Bangarang there’s room for at least one girl!

Marg: “So is this free life working for you?”

Me: “Sure…” (liar, liar pants on fire!!)

Marg: “Do you want a husband and kids?”

Me: “I don’t know… Maybe one day.” (stupid Grinch, give me my Christmas back!)

Marg: “How old are you if you don’t mind me asking?”

Me: “28” (Going on 92) 

Marg: “Oh, you’re a baby! The best is yet to come.”

Me: “Yeah right. Not to be rude or anything Mrs. Grinch -err- Margaret, but I feel the best has already been had. I’ve had the settled life, the career life, I was a question at the annual quiz of my birth town in 2015, … Honestly I feel I had all the cards dealt to me once and I royal flushed them all down the toilet. It’s all downhill from here.”

Celine: “Stop it! If you think that, then that’s what you’re gonna get!”

Marg: “Just ask yourself a basic question: what do you want?”

Me: “In life?”

Marg: “Yeah, in life, what else?”

Me: “… I don’t know. I don’t know what I want… Do I even have to have a destination in mind? If you live in the now isn’t that the worst thing you could do?”

Celine: “Well you have to let the universe know what you want in order to get it.”

Me:

jackie-chan-meme

(Getting my chinese rude on)

“Is the universe really concerned about me getting what I want? Why would it give a rat’s ass? Do you really think the universe wants us to have a nice Christmas Eve together? Earn a lot of money? Build a lot of houses? Do you really think the universe cares?”

Marg: “Were you traumatized as a kid or something?”

meandthegrinch

Me: “No, I just question my entire existence a lot. It doesn’t make sense to me why we’re here. It doesn’t make sense to me that we are born into this world that destroys oneself with war and terrorism, it doesn’t make sense to me that we are born into this system that expects us to clean up other people’s shit all day just so we can have a comfortable old age. It doesn’t.”

how-the-grinch-stole-christmas-1966-cindy-loo-who

Marg: “Your life is just beginning. Believe me. Take it from someone who has lived a long one: live in the now. Enjoy your life now. Before you know it you’ll be walking in the mall looking at your reflection in the mirror wondering who that old woman is. Life has its ups and downs. You will have bad breaks and disappointments, but don’t give up on life. Live it. There are wonderful things coming. Things you will want to work and live hard for. So live.”

tolivepeterpan

Bangarang! When did Mrs. Grinch turn into Wendy Darling?

2016-12-29-13-22-44-1

The Grinch was right. Or maybe it was the bottle of rye inside her blood that was right. I definitely want to live and work hard for the things I love. Traveling the world to discover all there is to know about life. Picking up stones and discovering what lies under them. Looking into mirrors and understanding everything there is to be seen in them. And one day I would love to love again. Deeply. Profoundly.

My wandering thoughts were interrupted with a deep grunt of discontent =>

eatingbecauseimbored

Marg: “Well it’s already past my bedtime. Son in law! Haul the truck we’re leaving.”

As she was waggling towards the cloakroom to get her coat, I ran in behind her.

Me: “Marg, wait!”

girlemail

“…Do you have like an email address or something?”

Marg: “Me…? What, you want to send me an email?”

rye

Me: “Well I would very much like for us to stay in touch. I didn’t think it straight from the beginning but… I think you kinda rock.”

grinchkiss

Marg: “Well *cough* I, ahm, I ….”

I think I had just made the Grinch blush.

… Before she turned into her old sassy self again.

Marg: “Well I can’t email on Tuesdays….

dinnerwithme

… But I would love to stay in touch.”

She scribbled her email address on a napkin and handed it over to me with eyes as soft as velvet.

Marg: “You are a truly gorgeous girl and you will have your ball. Just never give up on that.”

teachinggrinch

(Enter narrator’s voice:)

It was the night the Grinch stole Christmas.

And returned it the same day. 

how-the-grinch-stole-christmas-2000-09.jpg

*Merry (belated) Christmas to every single one of you*

XO

Read all about me arriving in Toronto, visiting Niagara Falls and smoking the christmas tree next time on the blog. Gobble gobble!

picture-2016-12-30-om-15-16-50

Making headlines

You guys! Something wonderful has happened! Something that will change the future of Backpackersguidefortheblondeandtheclueless forever. Your favorite blog is breaking borders, is conquering ground, is changing the rules, is mixing guacamole with syrup, is …

You: “Yeah, yeah we get it. Something big has happened. Spill the beans already.”

Me: “You are not going to believe this: The one and only DAILY PLANET has reached out to me to do an interview on me and the blog!”

→ Millions of readers getting to know BGftBC? – Hell yeah!

→ Getting interviewed by Clark Kent?? – Fuck yeah!

clarkkent

I didn’t hesitate one billionth of a second when they asked me!

… Unfortunately Kent couldn’t do the interview… The article is part of The Daily Planet’s Fashion Issue so I got to sit down with Lois Lane instead.

lois_lane_00011

We had a little chat and a photo shoot at Korsakov. I’m super happy with the result. Although I would have liked some more pictures to make the article breathe, … And some creative questioning wouldn’t have hurt, but that Lois Lane is a tough cookie to negotiate with. Anyway. Here’s the result, hope you like it!

picture-2016-12-06-om-09-58-50

You: “Hum. Exoticism?”

Me: “Shut up and continue reading.”

picture-2016-12-06-om-10-07-09

You: “Aww Evvy, aren’t you the sweetest Cheerleader Goth.”

Me:  annoyedemoji

picture-2016-12-06-om-10-24-43

** The End **

Me: “So… What do you think??”

You: “Honestly?”

Me: “Yes.”

You: “I think you should go back to interviewing people other than yourself. Now THAT would be a great look for you!”

emojiskull

To be continued.

Directions

You: “Hi Ev, how’s the cycling career going? Staying vertically?”

Me: Well things are mostly going horizontally since I have suffered a severe back problem because of working my ass off in order to pay for my (amateur) cycling career.

It was September 13th, 13:13 pm and 13 degrees outside. I was standing in line for the bakery with number 13 in my hand when it happened.

pain

I couldn’t move for about two hours without pain shooting from my lower back down my left leg. It felt like a nerve got stuck between my back and my pelvis.

dicaprio-thousand-knives

The next day, the chiropractor tried to snap me out of it.

thewish581
enhanced-buzz-14035-1377560805-0

But after two sessions I was still on my back.

perfectday

Here I was having spent a ton of money on a brand new road bike, already crippled before it had even started. 

A good thing about being horizontally is it gives you a chance to look up. And reflect. While I was gazing at the sky. Reading the clouds. I was trying to envision what my next move would be. Once I would be back in the saddle -literally- and able to move, that is.

Autumn has come, my sabbatical is almost over and I still don’t have a clue about what I’m going to/supposed to/want to do with my professional life.

Like time slipping away like sand in an hourglass. The more time ticks away, the more the realization comes:

I need to start choosing a direction.

And since there’s no more thing as ‘One Direction’ …

maxresdefault (2).jpg

… things can go ANY way.

And that shit’s crazy scary.

But -apparently- this is the part where I should throw in the word ‘exciting’.

My girl Kylie McGirr, could you take the word please? I need to pee.
(Listen to her, she’s the renowned writer of an … (E-)Book on nine steps to successful goal setting titled ‘Get Your Year Into Gear’ … Written by Kylie McGirr… Lovely rhyme work to say the least)picture-2016-10-12-om-09-58-15

Kylie:

Picture 2016-10-12 om 09.50.31.jpg

Coach Kylie is right. There IS an exciting side to it. People are seducing me with great job offers. I’ve pictured 5 different futures already. All had some nice things to say for them.

But it’s not ‘picture a future’. It’s ‘pick a future’.

tumblr_n2u27se4wt1tsn2woo1_500

What to decide?

Where to go?

I need a BIG road sign in my life

blondecluelesscyclists

No, not that one…

Rather one with:

‘Your direction here’ 

‘100% regret proof’ 

‘100% satisfaction guaranteed’

‘Try now, you’ll get an ‘always right, never wrong’ compass for free’

pocahontas-spinning-compass

‘Don’t like it? You’ll get an alternative route for free’ 

jacksparrowalternativerout

One year ago I  wasn’t ready to choose. I took a detour. And did what traffic loving Belgians like to do: place a big sign with ‘Works ahead’. To work on myself. To work some stuff out. To do anything but work work work.

least-responsibility

The consequences were horrendous.

dmv-lines

The Daily Planet: “People turning in driver’s license due to too many personal road works”

If I could I would have just 8-balled my way out of this pickle. But those things tend to change their minds more than Donald Trump opens his mouth.

Will I find the right direction?

signspointtoyes

Will it bring me a gainful, mentally stable, enjoyable though creatively challenging future?

outlooknotsogood

Why not?!

dontaskmeimaball

I know I need to choose the way myself. Without tools. And follow my inner compass.

5105894-1161883539-tumbl

What says my head?

What says my heart?

What says Pocahontas??

just_around_the_riverbend

Steady as the beating drum?
Should I marry Kocoum?
Is all my dreaming at an end?
Or do you still wait for me, Dream Giver
Just around the riverbend?
Ok, Pocahontas’ advice is to keep looking for excitement, the unpredicted path, without being held back by handsome men who build sturdy walls.
But I need a bigger AHA! feeling than that.
The great output of coach Kylie, the 8-ball and Pocahontas aside, it was time to take life lessons of a much higher level.
You: “God? “
Me: “The hermit crab.”
Red-hermit-crab-Dardanos-megistos-1024x768.jpg
Every hermit crab comes to a time in life where he -or she- needs to move to a bigger shell. They need to recognize that the small shell they used to call their home cannot hold what they are becoming and they need to take adequate actions. Without fear of growing and stepping out of their comfort zone. It requires serious courage for those beady eyed sea babies to leave their old shell since they are extremely vulnerable without it.
Some crabs even develop hermit crab anorexia. They starve themselves out of fear of growing and taking on new challenges. fatso-burger-picture

The subtext here is: The key to pursuing excellence is to embrace an organic long-term learning process, and not live in a shell of static safe mediocrity. Growth comes at the expense of previous comfort or safety.

Every challenge you accept is a new shell, a new home and a new opportunity for growth. The current one you have might be comfortable for now, but what are you depriving yourself of to stay there?  What challenges are you shying away from just so that you can remain right where you are?

Let’s all think about this while indulging on a savory treat.

Crab cake anyone?

crabcakes.jpg

I guess this blog post will be another ‘to be continued’.

Let me know if you’re looking for a bigger shell. We can all go shell-looking together. Apparently hermit crabs use their social network to trade up a shell. When a hermit crab finds a new, larger shell, several other individuals gather around and form a kind of queue from big to small. When a hermit crab that is sufficiently large arrives for the empty shell, this puts a chain reaction in motion: the largest crab takes the empty shell, the second largest creeps into the newly abandoned shell, etc. 

dmv-lines

The Daily Planet: “Hermit -and obese- drivers queuing for a bigger car”

XO

Oh before I forget. I want to end this post with a small communication service.

Recently I was going through my social media and I came across someone using the hashtag ‘#funemployed‘. Now, I know this blog is called ‘Blonde/Clueless’ but I was shocked by so much cluelessness after discovering this hashtag.

I mean:

Was taking the ring to Mordor fun?

frodo

Sure it was adventurous, and Frodo didn’t have to go to work for a long long time but leaving your job to go look for new and unexplored roads isn’t fun. It’s fucking hard work.

Sometimes I just want to snap people into place myself:

ted

And say:

r1oucad

You: “Ahm… You should say, you’re having a relationship with a bicycle.”

Me:

souls

 

tumblr_o3oxopbpr61udh5n8o1_500

Dring Dring

 

The cycling of life

Writing January 2015. My editor gives me the look. The look he gives everyone who comes up with a lousy idea in a bid to try something new, edgy and different for the paper.

lane-smith-lois-clark-adventures-superman-photo-gc

Editor: “Look Evelien, I admire your… ahm… creativity? But we’re not gonna turn you into a cross cyclist. Why the heck did you came up with that idea anyway?”

Me being deadly serious over here: “Because I want to challenge myself, write about every detail and make people think, push them to step out of their comfort zones. In which ever way they want to.”

lane-smith-my-cousin-vinny-movie-photo-gc

Editor: “(shakes his head with a big male chauvinist grin on his face) Let’s not, okay?”

“Now, let’s ‘cycle’ (ha-ha)

1

back to the daily reality guys. There’s been a murder 40K away from here. The wife apparently stabbed her husband with a pair of scissors and then tried to commit suicide but failed. She is now in the hospital where … ” His voice blurred into the background where it eventually muted. I was in my head. My silent bubble. My turmoil.

wonder-woman-bik

Dreamer.

My choice for becoming a cross cyclist came forward out of frustrated ambitions, melancholy and heartache.

I wanted to rise above myself. Reinvent myself. Be proud of something I achieved.

I felt so damn ordinary.

ordinary

Stuck in a daily routine. One where no one seemed to allow me to break free.

Not on my terms at least…

I was a woman shouting in the desert.

The idea was so pure and simple. And many times commercialized throughout my childhood years. I’m a kid from the MTV generation. And all I wanted was to be Made.

MTV_Made_600.jpg

But nobody seemed to listen.

I gave in. I decided it maybe wasn’t the time or place to become something else. That maybe they were right, and I should just go back to being normal. “Being normal is already crazy enough.”

… They should just execute people who dare to say that out loud.

A couple of months later I crashed. Hard.

Picture 2016-02-06 om 04.45.04

I had become so restless, I just couldn’t walk away from it any more. It was the big elephant in the room. Stampeding. I was looking for so much more. But I didn’t know what exactly. Or where to begin at all. I was scared as fuck.

It’s like jumping into the deep blue without knowing you can swim. Or end up piranha bait.

piranijos-3dd-51ed4269d7a69.jpeg

Worst.Movie.Ever.

So -as you loyal readers of the blog already know- I quit my job and bought a ticket out of here. The furthest place I could imagine. Australia. And see from there.

vicharb3

<Seeing from there>

People blamed me I was running away from things. As if it was a bad thing.

But there are two ways to look at the picture here. What does an athlete do? Does he run away from the start? Or does he run towards the finish line?

ed2f6bd5-98e6-4117-a0dd-acae8e754c0f

“Touché”

In my head, yes, I was running away from something.

To run towards something else.

That made sense to me. And that’s all that mattered. No matter how tired I got of explaining myself to family, friends and coworkers.

i-quit

On my travels I adapted a minimal lifestyle. I shared a shed with deadly spiders, slept in the passenger’s seat of a car, drove around the Sunshine Coast in a Mini Moke, kept the social encounters to a bare minimum, threw away clothes, insecurities and comfort zones. I let go. Trusted.

wild-reese-witherspoon

I read somewhere that people who trust things to faith are happier.

I ended up in China in a Kung Fu school to gain more self confidence and defensibility. Better reflexes too. I reached Japan and realized I was out of money. I worked with what I had. And the universe helped me out with the rest. My long travels brought me back to cycling this summer. I was back in the circus where I got hooked on adventure and fell in love with bicycles two years ago while I was working as a one-time Tour de France reporter. The cycle of life…

And the idea grew back on me.

picture-2016-09-19-om-09-26-48

TDF 2016

I want to ride my bicycle.

And participate in amateur road races.

Starting now my life will be concentrated to two wheels. Almost two years too late. But better late than never.

The greatest ticket to freedom, excitement, endurance, self knowledge, and the occasional fall on the face.

A metaphor for life.

“You make every tomorrow faster by acting today. So even if you aren’t at the same level as everyone else, there’s only one way to get there and it’s by staying optimistic and giving it a go.”
(Ella Cycling Tips)

Let’s not kiss the asphalt on the first date. Nor the hood of a car. Or the side mirror of a big truck.

Note to self:

Stay real.

Stay alive.

Stay on your bike.

XO

BIG SALE / 

COMFORT ZONES

They’re all out of fashion guys. I’ve stepped out of mine. People are stepping out of theirs. (Have you checked out srprs.me? It is the best invention ever!!! Well… Since the wheel, obviously. People are purchasing holidays without knowing where they’re going. I think I will treat myself to a surprise trip for my birthday this month!)

Why do we build up comfort zones? Materialistic ones and psychological ones?

american-beauty-stuff

Just think about all the junk you could get rid of. And how much you could actually gain from it.

Namasté all the way!

XO

You: Ahm Evyy?… Aren’t you forgetting something?

Me: Ehh…What?

You: Weren’t you supposed to tell us all about your new boyfriend you referred to on Facebook?

Me: … I just told you all about him.

You: (…) Is … Is your bike your new bf…?

Me: … Mmyes.

Yougiphy-4

To be continued.

The self ridiculing act of nomad bashing

Hi all!

You: “Errr…?”

Me: “Ahm… what? Do I have something on my face?”

You: “Why do you start your blog entry with an hello? Usually you just talk away. About your life. Or god forbid… your sex life. Ugh.”

Me: Well today I would like to change things up. And maybe start a dialogue…”

I can’t help but feeling there is a little bit of underlying tension going on these days. Not between you and me, per se. But more frequently I discover some kind of mockery against nomads, backpackers and everybody who chooses the great outdoors to gain some personal perspective.

Since this blog is called ‘backpackersguide…blablabla’ I feel I need to take a stand and address the non captivated/exploited, happy-go-lucky elephant in the room. And try to analyze what’s going on.

There are two obvious camps here:

* People who are drawn by adventure, who temporarily run away from obligations to live in the here and now and diss on people who rot away in their comfort zones.

* People who steer away from adventure and diss on the people who recklessly throw away all securities and comfort zones in the idle hope they will find all life’s answers by swimming with sharks, taking a selfie on top of Machu Picchu or eating a fried scorpion at some random Chinese farmer’s market.

scorpion2

(I plead guilty)

Well, let’s just settle this friendly battle here and now, why won’t we.

images-1

Let’s draw a little background sketch. We (20-30 year olds) are the generation that’s been handed too many choices. Our parents were children of parents who had survived the war. They had a harsh upbringing. In a bid to turn things around they decided a different approach for their own offspring. The velvet glove. Let’s just be motivational towards our kids. Let them become whatever they want to become. Let’s bring them up with a sense of freedom. Some analysts would say this prevented some serious quakes on the puberty scale. Why would we start a riot if everything is allowed and negotiable? It didn’t eliminate it; it just postponed it. To a much more difficult timing later on.

Enter the quarter life crisis.

whoami

I am…. (feel free to pick one for yourself)

a) who my parents made me to be (=realist, acceptance, no crisis here)
b) everything opposite my parents made me to be (=the rebel)
c) better than everyone (=the jerk)
d) a loser (=negative thinker)
e) Egon Ewin Kisch (=dead)

Of course the problem is not good or bad parenting. The initial problem is still the fact that there are too many choices. And the fact they eventually lead to choice stress. The way we react to that would enable some older generations to call us: spoiled narcissistic brats with no sense of reality.

But it’s just hard these days to really say:

Screenshot from I Want It That Way

We pick a road but from the minute the scenery doesn’t appeal to us any more, we bail and try another road. Because we can. Because we should. And because we want to. Or think we want to. Because -actually- we really don’t know. We just assume. Because -let’s face it- there’s too much choice.

200_s-3

So what seems to be a choice a lot of youngsters take these days? Right, the high road.

Due to the pressure of (social) media (Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, …) and the ad hoc commercial strategy of the travel industry using internet cookies and tailor made stalker advertisements to their power it looks like the only evident way to get rid of your stress is to step on a plane and travel to a galaxy far far away.  noseviaja

bigfat

Where else are you going to get the opportunity to do a shallow water scarf dance?

23-backpacker-thumbs-up-getty-182654419

Get the most out of your opposable thumbs?

bondi-backpackers-surfside

Or cosy up to a complete stranger?

scalpedbackpacker

Woops, this one is not supposed to be in here

Of course not everyone dares to take the high road. Because they

  • are scared
  • financially in a pickle
  • scared
  • scared
  • scared

The list with reasons is endless.

margaritabecauseyoustressme_zps0da2ea67

So some of them -in fact- rot away in their comfort zones. And forever regret not making exciting life choices. Walking around like little time bombs. Others find a way to get over/around it and end up appreciating what they got and eventually lose the need to jump from one continent to another.

funny-eric-foreman-quotes-2

“I don’t need to go to Asia to solve my life problems, thank you”, someone slingshotted at me recently.

That’s fair. If you really mean it. That means you’re much more likely to solve your problems one on one. Or maybe don’t have any problems to begin with.
… For now. Let’s just see what midlife brings.

I can’t help but feeling when people say it like that, they take the diss out of people who do need it. It has become a phenomenon to ridicule the act of traveling the globe to get to know oneself. I call it nomad bashing. Backpacker bullying. Globetrotter battering. Wanderlust shaming.

Well, don’t blame us for having a sense of curiosity.

… Or for having better stories than you.

mounttibidabo

In reality those people are just shifting the blame, changing the conversation, greatly hoping one day a scientist with a PhD will stand up and tell them:

‘You were right, you don’t have to travel to the other side of the world. It’s not going to help you. I have the proof!’

sheldon

So the bullies can go on and say: ‘Told you so’

justin-timberlake-where-is-the-love-df5f1d96-c25d-4409-a5d9-e2fbedc1eee8

I don’t know

Our stories could be the closest you’ll get to a little adventure.

Too bad you don’t see it that way.

It must be hard living a life with bad eye sight, no cojones and a synthetic identity.

It might just be you are trying a little too hard to conform to a closed system, pushing a synthetic identity onto yourself which enables you to avoid looking if the chosen identity matches your own deeper wishes and competences. You choose to be unsupportive towards other ideas to protect yourself against potential doubt about the irreversible road you took.

So, who’s dealing with the real crisis here, Sherlock?

tumblr_n0tadksqme1rzik3go1_500.gif

Not to be worried though.

“A crisis is no such thing as an inevitable disaster, but must be seen as a necessary turning point, a critical time when the development in one way or another should continue and opportunities for growth, recovery and further differentiation will be mobilized.

An identity crisis, like any crisis, is an initially negative perception of emotional experience, but mostly an inevitable obstacle to achieve further development.

In that turbulent phase lies ample opportunity for growth.”
(Erik Erikson)

“Real winners are those who dare to lose everything” * 
(Evelien Delgouffe)

I hear the Maldives are on sale.

picture-2016-09-30-om-00-23-07

Great travel agency by the way. It’s the one I used for my awesome adventure. If you want to I can tell you ALL about it some time.

XO

* (Not to be taken literally by heavy gamblers with debts the size of the Grand Canyon.)

… Although I do hear the Canyon looks great this time of year.

Grand Canyon National Park

Less hating. More hiking.

Safe travels!

paperbag

XO

 

Aftermath

And did you get what you wanted from this life, even so? 

idid

And what did you want? 

To call myself beloved, to feel myself beloved on the earth. 

(Raymond Carver, Late Fragment)

***

Okay guys, we all know what time it is. It’s closing time. My trip is coming to an end. This is the final blog post. Grab your last drink, sit back and relax and try to laugh every now and then. Just… for old time’s sake.

sake

(This was your cue to laugh)

So you must be really curious about how Japan is treating me.

not

Good! Because the first days were a blast. I survived an earthquake (previous post) and slept in boxes (capsule hostels). I went to Harajuku, explored Asakusa, stood on the famous Shibuya crossing, went to a Robot show, ….

IMG-20160518-WA0055

Life was great! Until one night I was standing in front of a supermarket ATM and couldn’t withdraw cash. It had seemed I had only 6 euros left in my account.

deadpool

What in the ass?! How did this happen?? Is my wallet leaking? Did I access some dodgy wifi and got phished? I’ve been leaving my credit card details like bread crumbs, somebody must have framed me!

rogerrabbit

You: “Relax Roger Rabbit, you probably just spent it all. I’ve seen your Instagram account, you flew from Shanghai to Hong Kong and from Hong Kong to Tokyo in less than two weeks.”

Me: “Mmmyes… I did the (after) math. And you’re right. I did spent more money than I thought I did. Even though I didn’t splurge (I stayed at cheap hostels and survived on two meals a day) I still spent a lot of money on stupid things. Like transportation, an occasional movie ticket and the extra charge that was taken from me every time I retrieved cash from an ATM.”

Fuck my life. I am in Japan, had all these wild plans of going to Osaka to visit Universal Studios and going to Kyoto to see the bamboo forest, visit hot springs and dress up like a geisha,and all I wanna do now is go home this instant!

IMG-20160518-WA0000

(Relax, it’s a snapchat filter)

Without money I don’t feel like being here any longer. I’ve had it. I want my old life back! And I want my salary back!

How in the shit biscuit am I going to survive the next 15 days with only 156 euros? (150 in my wallet and 6 in my account)

Betty-and-Wilma-Charge-It-free-clip-art

I had three choices: 

A: Take the credit card out and let the future take care of it;

B: Prostitution;

C: Lock myself up in a hostel, survive on cucumbers and bananas.
(Subconsciously I pick phallus food… what is wrong with me?)

You: “You not getting an orgasm. That’s what’s wrong with you. Just have sex already and get it over with. It will help you to think more straight. I choose option B.”

Me: “No! Perv. That would be option Z. I checked what’s out there. And it’s an ugly Tinder-truth!”

I pick C.

‘C’ for ‘Cause it’s the reasonable thing to do’.

booyouwhore

I’d rather not have debts when I return to Belgium, thank you.

You: “But maybe you’re in Japan only once, don’t you have an emergency fund or something?”

Me: “My answer stands. I’m keeping my foot down.”

Walking in line, conforming to rules, being well mannered, well behaved and humble. That’s what the Japanese people have thought me and that’s what I will do. Obey my wallet. Bare the consequences of my own actions.

You: “Woah Evvy, are Japanese people really such party poopers?”

Well from 9am to 5pm they are. Standing in line for the metro dressed in their perfectly ironed suit and tie, picking the recommended lunch, staying on the safe side of life, bowing all day and licking their boss’s ass. After that they hit the pubs, karaoke bars or video game centers and get completely loud and wasted. The smell on the subway alone will get you drunk. I’ve seen salary men sweating out their hangover at 7 am under a bridge. That’s why every convenient store sells clean shirts, underwear, socks and toiletries. It’s part of the culture. At one point they just go : “I’m done bowing for you. Suck my d*** , I’m getting drunk.” The morning after they put on a clean shirt and humble life starts all over again. Ohayooo, Sumimaseeeen, Domo arigatou gozaimasuuuu, …

My friend Cedric was here to witness my little ATM meltdown and was not very pleased. He had just spent 19 hours on a plane to see me for the first time in 5 months and here I was feeling depressed and not wanting to leave the room because of not having money. That night, he put me to bed hoping everything would be better in the morning

Picture 2015-03-08 om 13.29.09

… and I am very grateful he put a roof over my head the entire time he was here. In return I went to get him fresh bakery treats every morning and tried to pay for his food as much as possible. I also put up with his snoring without complaining tooooo much. But still I could never compensate the Cinderella hotel he payed for while he was here. Domo arigatou gozaimasuuuu *bow bow bow*.

Picture 2016-05-28 om 07.38.58.jpg

When he left I had 9 more days to survive off my budget. Back to cucumbers and bananas. When all of a sudden I ran into a former teacher of mine. Apparently she had moved with her family to Tokyo last year. She invited me to come stay with her in order to keep my budget down. This is only the second time she saved my life. First was 9 years ago when she helped me get a copywriting internship at TBWA, one of the best advertising agencies in the world. I always knew I wanted to write but she gave me the opportunity to really explore that talent. Without that experience I wouldn’t have had the confidence to pursue a professional career as a writer. I wouldn’t have landed a job at the biggest newspaper in Belgium, I wouldn’t have gotten a burnout at 26, I wouldn’t have started traveling. Without her ‘Backpackers Guide for the Blonde and the Clueless’ WOULDN’T EVEN EXIST! We should all bow for this lady right now.

bow

I gladly accepted her invitation and moved in with her on Friday. Five days before returning to Belgium. She lives 40 minutes outside Tokyo city center in Setagaya. A new -and rather upscale- neighborhood.

Her son let me sleep in his room. And I was free to scavenge the kitchen cupboards as much as I want. I landed my own little piece of heaven.

As soon as I moved in I started thinking: maybe I should try to make one more trip happen. One last unforgettable night. To have closure. A last resort. I put all my money together and started doing some brain breaking mathematics. I already knew Osaka and/or Kyoto were out of the question. But soon I discovered there might be enough there to allow me a trip to the Japanese seaside! It would be great if I could see the beach before I leave. I exchanged the euros and dollars I still had in my pocket. Also the 50 euro emergency note I got from Mattias and Maja the day before I left Belgium. “To pay for a nice accommodation when you need it.” Clairvoyant friends, I have.

I started looking into it and bumped on an article in a Japanese magazine about this wonderful beach in Izu. It is a little further than the touristy beaches around Tokyo but worth the ride. It would take me about 3 hours to get there by train and about the same amount of transfers.

I immediately booked myself a ryokan just a hop-skip from the beach where I would enjoy looking out at the white sand, waves and surfers from a Japanese-style room with tatami mats and futon beds. On Sunday I waved my ‘foster family’ goodbye and took off with a little backpack carrying only my toothbrush, a pair of fresh underpants, my bikini and my laptop. It felt like the first day of school. Although I’ve been on more exciting trips these last months, this one actually gave me butterflies in my stomach. Since I had given up on the outlook of leaving Tokyo, but somehow making one last trip happen. I was over the moon. Especially since the weather gods had granted me 29 degrees and a full day of sun.

Picture 2016-05-30 om 10.42.52

on my way from Yokohama station

The entire way there I sat in my seat with a smile on my face. I saw the landscape changing stop after stop. More green, more trees, look there! It’s the ocean!

When I finally arrived in Izukya-Shimoda station I was only one bus ride away from my destination. Of course the bus driver accidentally dropped me off 1 K too far. But if it wasn’t for that I would have never discovered ‘On the Beach’. A cute little beach/surf bar with the most amazing BBQ lunch meals. The presentation is a modern take on the traditional Japanese ‘bento’ lunch box. For only 700 Y (5 euros) that was damn good lunch!

bbqlunch

Apparently Izu is a surfer’s paradise and there were a lot of wave seekers out there that day. The sides of the road were bedazzled with little surf shops selling cute clothes, bikinis and accessories. I felt like I was back in Oz. It felt like the perfect place to end my trip.

When I arrived at the hotel, I entered a room with an amazing beach side view, with a kimono hanging in the closet to dress me up for dinner. I also discovered there were hot springs available. For free! I think it’s amazing how things have a way of eventually falling into place. Even though I didn’t get to go to Osaka and Kyoto, I still got a chance to do everything my heart desired. Sleeping in a traditional ryokan, on a tatami mat, bathing in a hot spring, dressing up like a geisha, …

The puzzle fitted perfectly. The only thing missing was the Universal Studios. But -somehow- I did manage to make up for that the day after. When I decided to make a brief stop in Yokohama before returning to Setagaya and went on an unexpected roller coaster ride by the harbor. The perfect way to end this roller coaster of a journey.

rollercoaster'

At one point the ride just disappears under ground!

It wasn’t the Harry Potter ride, but I screamed and giggled like a little girl.

postrollercoaster

Post roller coaster selfie. It was WILD!

While I was taking in the sea view at Tatadohama beach I started doing some ‘after math’ again.

Picture 2016-05-30 om 10.55.46

Calculating not losses, but profits this time. Asking myself: “What have I gained from this trip?”

  1. I defo became wiser

My roots literally pushed the blondness away. I definitely have become less clueless. But -no worries- I am still naive enough to live this life through dangerously pink glasses.

Picture 2016-05-28 om 07.43.49

2. This trip made me realize: I am one lucky San of a bitch

I have amazing friends and family. The best parents in the world. They stood by me this entire time. Letting me go, giving me freedom. Trusting. There were times I didn’t reach out to them for weeks. And still they didn’t complain. That meant a lot.

thankyoumomanddad

I have the best colleagues and bosses in the world. They supported my decision. Respected it. And even published some bits of my adventure.

rihanna.gif

3. I frigging love myself 

I didn’t encounter the love of my life. But then again, that wasn’t really the goal of my trip. It didn’t happen because I didn’t open up to the opportunity. I was too busy spending time with myself. Catching up on lost times. However, I had some uplifting moments. I will never forget Steph and our little tryste at Port D. I will never forget Kunyu mountains and my little romance with a fellow Kung Fu student. Even the innocent little night swim at Noosa beach with my first ever Tinder date will be something I will gladly look back at in 20 years from now. Although I do regret not having tasted the butcher’s fine meats… Ah well. Maybe he needs a little more ripening anyway. After all, he’s only 24. And I’m not Madonna… Or am I?

madonna

4. I’ve met some pretty amazing people

In the category non sexual encounters I gladly remember Helmut. The Tasmanian Devil. How he tried to brush me off but ended up regretting not having me around longer. Goedele, who took me into her home and shared a quite turbulent first week with me back in Adelaide. I loved my farm family and Pierre who took me on an unforgettable roadtrip to Melbourne as a true gentleman. I remember Maryam. A strong woman who taught me the simple truth that ‘different people have different ideas’, to never lose my self esteem, and to not be afraid of using a little herbs in the kitchen. There’s no such thing as overseasoning. My lovely motel managers back in Marcoola, who hooked me up with the most fun car ever with which I embarked on the most fantastic roadtrip ever. James at the Floriana in Cairns. Who taught me Fawlty towers really does exist. My shifu in China. The man I felt a deeply (however platonic) love and respect for. My roomie Celine, my sister from another mister, who I will visit very very soon. My teamie Audrey and all the other amazing people I met in the school. Rebekka, Linus, Sterling, Obim, Bo, Marvin, Daniel, Lore, Lucy, Himmat, Luke, … too many to sum up!

tranniecry

rupaul

5. There is nothing I cannot do. Well, sort of

I learned to take care of myself. To be independent and to believe in my capabilities. I learned to drive on the left, to get from A to B in foreign countries using foreign currency and foreign language. I learned Kung Fu. Or at least the basics of it. I learned I have a strong will and a strong body to match and I am capable of doing russian push ups if I really put my mind to it. I learned my body is the most powerful instrument I will ever own. And therefor I learned to treat it that way =>

6. I quit smoking

My last cigarette I put out in Ashbourne (what’s in a name) Australia over 4 months ago. I haven’t had a setback once. I don’t understand how I could ever be addicted to it.

7. I learned to trust

I’ve learned no matter what happens, things happen for a reason and things have a way of turning out well in the end. Never a failure always a lesson. Never an ending without a new beginning.

This is why this maybe isn’t the final blog post after all. Time will tell.

But for now:

Lientje Out.

IMG-20160520-WA0041

Domo arigato for your support these past months.

thankyou

Daisuki! ❤

IMG-20160521-WA0003

And thank you snapchat for turning me into a real (and rather scary) geisha after all. Free of charge!

XO