The beast of competition

HI-DE-HOO!

You: “Well Ev, you’re cheery. I thought you would be having the ol’ travel blues since you got back from Canada. Plus: looking at where you were last year, you probably will be full of nostalgia.”

That is correct You-san. Facebook does punch me in the face with anniversaries of precious moments I lived last year. January 29th it was one year ago I was standing on The Bluff overviewing one of the most amazing views of my life. Yesterday it was the anniversary of the first time I drove on the left.

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And I will be confronted with many more precious memories in the weeks to come. But blue? …

I kinda like the color blue.

It also happened to be the color of the car I represented at the Car Expo in Brussels a couple of weeks ago.

As you may know, I returned from Canada on January 9th and the next day I was already attending training sessions to become a car sales(wo)man for MINI.

I applied for the job months ago and around September I found out I was hired. The company even had so much confidence in me they put me responsible for their newest model. The European premiere of the new and improved MINI COUNTRYMAN.

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I could totally see myself driving this ‘Island Blue’ baby on the left side of the road.

It kinda gave me some cold sweats knowing I would be in charge of one of the most sought after models of the event, but I was honored they confided in me.

Hell, I wouldn’t if I were them!

But there I was. Friday the 13th of January. All dressed up to sell my car to the audience for the next ten days.

Our team would work long days. Getting up early in the morning, walking and talking for at least 9 hours straight, driving home, eating and going to bed at a reasonable hour to repeat everything the next morning.

It’s like living in a bubble with very little to no time at all to do anything else.

Actually….

It’s kind of like participating in a big cycling race!

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You get together every morning for team briefing. By that time you’re already fully dressed and equipped for another day on the super hero front. You will kick ass. You will not shark around. You will get the job done. And by the end of the day there’s the sweet release of food and sleep.

Plus: there is a classification. Every day there is a team winner. Someone who did the upmost. Someone who deserves the 24 hour title of ‘Sales(wo)man of the day’. Presents are handed out. Stats are being showed.

And every time we would be reminded of one thing: to aim higher each day.

It was the first time I was engaging in something this competitive. And I was feeling something inside of me I had never thought I possessed: the beast of competition.

Even though the newspaper business was and is a very competitive business too, I never really played my cards that way. I just did my thing in the hopes it would all turn out well. Sure I was happy whenever I would have a scoop someone else didn’t have, but I easily could have lived without that adrenalin rush. It was just a nice little extra on top of the rest of the work.

But now, the tables had turned. I was eager to do a great job. To kick ass and to make me, MINI and the agency  who got me this job, proud.

Battle mode on √

The setting was great. I was in charge of the most adventurous car. I found its identity to be more than meets the eye. Still a MINI, but also spacious, well thought out of the box. I identified with this car. I figured if I would throw in a little wit, a little charm, I could sell this puppy like sweet cherry pie.

But my car was a Diesel. So I started off a little slow too. I was assured I would attain my top speed in no time and from then on be unstoppable. On my third day I was doing so great, I was convinced I would become ‘Saleswoman of the day’.

The next morning I was all ready to receive my prize. I was cheery and confident and ready for another day of ass kicking.

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“I believe I can fly, I believe I can touch the sky”

Team leader: “Okay team, let’s look at some statistics from yesterday’s leads. As you can see, you are doing a magnificent job! We are attaining our goals and even going the extra mile. Sales team, I am extremely proud of how you’re doing. And yesterday one person in particular did a great job and deserves to be sales person of the day. That person is…”

Me: “This is it, this is my moment of glory.”

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Team Leader: “Mike!”

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I didn’t understand. Mike told me he had a bad day yesterday. And here he is, being elected to Salesman of the day…

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I was feeling so low. I knew I shouldn’t let this get to me. I’m doing a great job. If the rest won’t acknowledge that, I will just have to keep doing what I’m doing until they do.

After a brief zen meditation in the toilet…

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I decided to continue the work I was doing. Soon as the visitors arrived, I was back in the game. Dispensing all the valuable information people wanted from me in Dutch, English and French. Interacting with children and showing them some cool features.

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And then there it was. The thing that melted all my sorrows away. The cutest little baby in a pink baby carriage.

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Me: “Oh my! Aren’t you the cutest little baby in the world!” I reached out my hand to pet it on the little head, when it suddenly turned around and changed into an absolute…

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MONSTER!

The little bitch (it’s a dog, I’m allowed to use that word) bit me right in the index finger and kept holding it between her little, but very sharp, teeth for a good 10 seconds.

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I screamed. When the dog finally let go she was barking and making a scene as if I had just molested her. I didn’t know what to do or say, and was keeping my hand behind my back, rubbing my thumb over my index finger to find out if it was bleeding or not. I didn’t want to look at it since I already fainted once from a bleeding finger and I didn’t want it to happen again. I had a goal to attain! And Sales(wo)men of the day don’t faint!

Owner: “No, no, no you can’t do that! Not while she’s in her carriage.”

Me: “Well good God woman! You could at least have a sign or some warning attached to her stroller!”

Maybe this was the sign. Maybe, this little calamity, was my warning to not get too caught up in the act. And the chihuahuas muzzle was just a metaphor.

All day I was out of my element because of that dog.

Eventually I generated some leads but I wasn’t at my best. The next morning I wasn’t elected. But that was no surprise.

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I decided to lick my wounds and just focus on the job. After all, helping people find the car of their requirements was already pretty rewarding too. And that night we would order pizza for the entire team. So I had something to look forward to.

Our outfits were sent to the dry cleaners and everybody was just wearing jeans and sneakers to the occasion. I was wearing the black bear I scored in Canada. Read: the faux fur I bought at Value Village.

Team leader: “Woah Evelien, thats a pretty big coat.”

Me: “Yep, I’m a pimp in real life.”

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Bitches call me Gator

I took a slice of pepperoni pizza and considered talking to our team leader. After all, two days had passed since my little bathroom tantrum and I still hadn’t made it to Saleswoman of the day. Almost everyone of our team had already been elected. But I was staying neglected.

Me: “Say…. Team leader. Does the fact that I haven’t been ‘Saleswoman of the day’ yet, a sign that I’m behind in the classification?”

Team leader: “Not at all. You’re doing a really good job. We always try to make everybody Salesperson of the day at least once. The fact that it takes a long time with you is because we think you don’t need that reassurance as much as some other people on the team. We kinda presumed you were pretty confident about what you did.”

Me: “Yeah, totally…”

I wanted to disappear behind a pizza box. I had been such a fool. Getting carried away by my emotions.

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I should have known by now to never doubt my work and what I’m capable of.

The day after, this trooper got named Saleswoman of the Day. I got a beautiful pen and an applause from my team mates. By then we were already a strong team and that was the biggest reward to me. To be part of that. And to help each other get over the finish line in one piece.

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You: “Talking of cycling, how is your so-called cycling career going?”

Me: “I thought you’d never ask!”

I am glad to announce I will be participating in quite a challenging race in less than 10 weeks to come. I have been training really hard and hope to be ready just in time.

Everybody around me has been really encouraging.

At a recent family outing -where I wasn’t present- my mother was telling her kin about my participation.

Kin: “Err..the chance she will make it till the finish line is pretty…”

My mother: “Small?”

Kin: “Non existent.”

It was only days later I found out about their little conversation.

Well let me tell you all a little something about Evelien Delgouffe:

SHE DOESN’T QUIT. 

End of story.

I am a MINI Saleswoman of the Day (Yes, you get to wear the title for the rest of your years, it’s kind of like being Miss Universe). I may appear small on the outside. But I am surprisingly powerful on the inside.

Plus! I have the advantage of a hidden engine.

You: “A hidden engine in your bike frame?!”

Me: My mind.

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I have grazed skin on my ass. And my lady parts feels like punched lasagna. Don’t tell me I won’t make it until you suffer from one of these discomforts yourself.

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“Wouldn’t you be better off putting more energy in a career than shitting away precious energy for some cycling interlude?” Someone recently asked me.

My answer:

I need this.

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This is a way to re-energize me for my professional life.

Don’t forget I was near burnout by the end of 2015.

I wanna return healthy and fit.

I have been healthy and fit for some months now. From the moment I left for Australia it felt like the weight of the world fell off my shoulders. I was driving in Australia hoping one day I would be like those amateur cyclists I saw riding on the side of the road. In the hot summer sun. Free. One with the outdoors. Fit.

One year later I am training.

My bike makes me feel good about myself. Gives me the energy I need. Makes me strong. Healthy and young. Bikes keep people young, people!

But most importantly: my bike reminds me I have no limits.

I will never take “No you can’t” for an answer.

I am a believer.

It’s my default preset.

Like the ‘Mini’ who kept believing he could be a ‘Maxi’.

That’s what gets me through all my challenges. Whether it is writing stories, going on far away adventures or selling freedom on four wheels.

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The day after the Car Expo ended, it was officially Blue Monday. Last year I left for Australia on Blue Monday. I wanted to leave on the most depressing day of the year. This year Blue Monday was -just like my Countryman- an Island Blue Monday. Filled with good vibes and memories. The 1390 liters of maximum trunk space. And that suited me just fine…

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Always remember to live in the now. And appreciate what you’re doing now. Even if it’s planning a holiday, prepping yourself for a night out with friends, making your first home made lasagna (sorry if I ruined this for you). It’s precious memory making. SO LIVE NOW. You probably will never get these moments back.

Also: don’t be afraid to be competitive or fight for what’s important to you. Even if it’s unlikely you’ll succeed. You will never know for sure, until you try. People will always try to knock you down. Unfortunately, it’s their default preset. When they do. Just remember to:


1) Not give a fuck

2) Get back up again.

XO

Road trippin’

That final morning in Gatineau, Canada.

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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?”

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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.”

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(…)

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Me: “Well we all got to go one day…”

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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. 

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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!”

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“Howdy”

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

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(So much crunch…)

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

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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 =>
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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.

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(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.”

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

Me: “Alright, alright, I got it.”

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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.

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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.”

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

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

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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.

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

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

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“And maybe another French Vanilla.”

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

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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.”

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Celine: “You’re grose”

A couple of hours and treats later …

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… 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.

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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.

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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.

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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…

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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!

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

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Celine: “Where do you wanna sit?”

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

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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.”

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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 ↑ ))

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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!”

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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.

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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!

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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:

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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?

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Or rapists?

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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.”

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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.

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

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

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

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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.”

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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.

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

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Celine: “Well…

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… at least we had a nice view.”

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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.

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

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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??

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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.

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Say ‘Qi’!

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

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Montreal by night

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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.

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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.

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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 …

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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.

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

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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.

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

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

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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!

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

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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…

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

To a live nude bar it is!

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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“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.

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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!”

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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.

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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

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Thank you Celine. For everything.

XO

The END

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’.

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Look that’s Toronto in the back right there ❤

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

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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.

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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.

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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:

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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.

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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?”

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Me:

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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.

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“TAKE LSD?”

No kiss the dog Lucy. Our home girl.

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So baked.

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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.

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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.

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(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 ^^

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Peace out
Smoke mouth

XO

Jingle bells, the game of life smells

I did it again.

Just like your world-class villain,

I fled the country.

I wasn’t planning on jumping on a plane. I was thinking about going to the forest just a two hour drive away and rent a cottage there to do some reminiscing.

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Well, I am in a foresty area. Just not a two hour drive away but more like 3.743 miles away.

I’m currently in the land of the maple tree, the birth town of Justin Bieber and Jim Carrey, a place wear I can wear jeans on jeans and watch lumber jacks in checkered shirts all day. I’m talking ‘aboet‘:

CAN-A-DA!

… CANA-DA! …

… CA-NA-DA!

terrencephilipcanada

You guys all know I took a 2016 gap year to travel and widen my horizons. Well, my break year is almost coming to an end now. Starting February 2017 I have to get back to work in some form or way. And since I have not yet got the faintest idea of what I want to do with my life, I felt I should go looking for answers once again.

Australia, China an Japan provided me with a lot of insights but I was still not clear on a couple of things. So I decided to go west this time. And visit that other part of this globe in order to make the circle round and my world trip complete. Just in time for the new year. And just in time for US citizens to flee from Trump’s presidency and shit all over the canadian heritage.

It isn’t only a good thing for me. My room mate is happy to have me out of the house for a couple of weeks. The people at the café don’t have to drink crappy cappuccinos any more and you get to read about another exciting adventure. Everybody gains!

You: “I think I can speak for all of us when I say we are glad we don’t have to read any more fake interviews with yourself.”

Me: “You’re absolutely right. It must be hard to cope with the fact I actually get interviewed and you don’t.”

Anyway. After a little more than three months of being back in Belgium, I really needed to get away again. I felt like the walls were coming at me. I felt the stress of the deadline strangling me. And worse: I was starting to lose my Kung Fu zen.

Ok, catch the joke:

I was borderline burnout when I left for Australia at the beginning of this year, right? Well, compared to where I am now, I was a freaking optimist back then! The girl that strongly believed everything happens for a reason, who believes in destiny and destination, who romanticizes everything and everyone, has suffered one too many letdowns on her quest. On top of that: her days of working as a bar maid injected her with a shot of realism and she started to throw all her beliefs overboard. Everything she fought and travelled for. She was tired of fighting against the prejudice of others. Just about ready to surrender to safe mediocrity, just so everybody would stop giving her a hard time about how to live her life.

I couldn’t let that happen. I needed to get the faith back.

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Damn right Georgie ❤

So Friday the 23rd I jumped on the plane to Toronto, Lester B. Pearson International Airport. To fly right into the arms of Celine. My Canadian room mate I met in the Kung Fu school in China and with whom I spent one of my best times with this year. She is my spirit animal and thought me not to hope, but trust. Trust in yourself. Trust in the universe. Trust in a happy end. She is incredibly centered and always has a way of dealing with life graciously.

She picked me up at the airport and stayed at her sister’s place in Guelph, Ontario to spend the day before Christmas with them. It felt great to be smothered and welcomed by such a warm family. It was as if I was being cradled like a baby. Being fed candy canes and chocolate.

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Celine’s sister: “So Celine tells me you’re a writer.”

Me: “Yeah, I’ve been working as a newspaper reporter for over half a decade. I started as a showbizz journo attending all these events and red carpets. Then I got promoted. Then I got promoted again. And again and again and that’s when I decided to quit my job for a year.”

By the look of her face, it seemed as if I had just thrown an amazing turkey sandwich with a moist maker in the trash.

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I know it’s impossible for a lot of people to understand. Heck, I don’t understand myself most of the time either. All I know is: the balance was off, the formula didn’t work and now I’m looking for the right balance in order to live a happy and fulfilling life molded to my terms and needs.

And that comes with a lot of trial and error. And with a lot of doubt. I am constantly in doubt. I’m constantly doubting what I want. Even after a year of unplugging and reconnecting with myself.

I don’t know why it’s so hard for me but I feel I want way too much out of this life. I have too much attention for everything going on around me and question everything that goes on around me. I’m on life’s ass with a magnifying glass. I just wish I could shut up my brain for five seconds and just chose a life and stick with it. Be happy with a job I’m good at. Get rid of all this worrying and just find a balance. I know my previous life wasn’t bad. But it’s just not me any more. I opened too many doors to return to the exact same way it was.

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My poor aching gulliver

The kids were making gingerbread houses in the kitchen. I joined them but soon realized my building units were a little off. I refused looking at the guidelines since I was too lazy to lift the box and started making something out of it. I went for a flat roof and with the two redundant panels I made little christmas trees for the yard and the roof. I had my own little unique cottage. My own Dr. Suess dream house.

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See? You don’t always have to follow instructions. Dare to break the rules.

Gingerbread therapy was doing great for me. I was happy my stubbornness started to get back to me. But then somebody opened the door to all hell. Somebody took out the board game that would unleash mayhem on everybody!

You:

jumanji

Me: “No, The Game of Life.”

jumanji1

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It’s a people’s guideline to living a life without a spark of imagination. A wheel of fortune which tricks kid’s minds and teaches them all the wrong values. In all the wrong orders. Only five steps into the game it already orders you to grow up, choose between a degree or a career, get a house, get some children, cough up money for a loan, work work work work work and at the end of the game you get to decide whether you want to retire on A. Countryside acres or B. Millionaire mansion.

There is only a gazillion things wrong with this board game. For starters you cannot deny to get married or to have kids. If the game says so, you have to put two little ones and a hubby in that little plastic car with you. A blue pawn if it’s a boy. A pink one if it’s a girl.

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Forget all that gender neutral stuff. Or unmarried moms. Or free spirited people not wanting to have a full time job, an overly expensive car and all that jazz. If you don’t meet those standards then you’re dead meat. Don’t even think of having a comfortable old day either, punk.

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“Stay on the safe side of life kids, otherwise you’ll end up in the gutter!”

What bothers me the most is that kids get brought up with these overly strict and outdated christian values. It’s basically learning you how to not think for yourself and just follow a blueprint everybody else is already following and chances are likely you will stay in the game. Don’t take risks!

… It’s a totally different board game…

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And it will only get you into trouble.

Before you know it you’re stuck in a household losing every single bit of control – “I can’t buy no beach house in California, I gots mouths to feed!”-  just because you chose to be dictated a certain way.

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If you don’t want the textbook/blueprint life, don’t be afraid to use your imagination. Stay true to what you want to do with your life. Your own balance. Some will say your life elixir tastes too sweet. Or too sour. But tastes differ. And everybody should sweep in front of their own door first!

Me: “I’m getting bored of this life.”

I was just about to throw my money over to the bank when my eyes watered up to the rims of my glasses. The kitchen and living room started to fill up with smoke and spices.

Celine’s sister: “Kids, the turkey’s ready!”

Me: “Gobble gobble, let me see!”

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Isn’t she a beaut?

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Celine’s dad flipping the bird. How rude.

(Enter narrator’s voice:)

“It was a first Christmas miracle to a girl who wasn’t familiar with this way of celebrating Christmas. And the first of many to come…”

Read all about my magically mirrory Christmas Eve celebration next! Where an angel in Grinch clothing lighted my path!

grinch

To be continued in a day or two.
I gots mouths to feed y’know.

XO

Shooting hoops

I’ve been having some trouble sleeping lately. I guess it has all to do with having a lot on my mind.

For starters:

A) In one month I will be saying goodbye to my perfect little apartment in the south of Antwerp.

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Since I can’t pay for it any more. Since…

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B) On top of that I have been having nightmares about the café I work at. Ever since I had to clean up after this drunken customer pissing all over the place, his fizzy pee haunts me in my sleep.

C) Same goes for Kaley Cuoco’s lip sync battle. That shit’s craayzaay scary.

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I needed something to take my mind of things.

I decided to join my dad for a little Tuesday B-ball practice. He wanted to try out his new state of the art Derrick Rose shoes.

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Badass sneaks

And to me, it seemed like a good day to kick some veteran ass.

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Seemed like the only person I opened a can of whoop ass on … was myself.

Dad: “Hi guys, I brought my daughter with me tonight to join us during our game, I hope that’s okay.”

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Roger: “Yeah sure,…

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… I’m out of shape today anyway.”

Me: “Errr… (?!)”

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Apparently some of the gents weren’t too happy with a female entering the bunch. Since a couple of them were really looking for some ‘guys time only’.

Turned out one fellow’s wife was diagnosed with advanced cancer, which obviously is a big blow. She only has 12 months to live.

And Roger’s old Missus had just left him.

Roger: “I haven’t eaten for seven days.”

Me:

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Apparently she came back from a holiday in Spain and told him: “You can come and collect me from the airport but you’re not taking me or my luggage back with you.”

Auwtch.

All the more reason to get this party started, right?

Me: “Suicide anyone?”

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Dad: “Word choice, dumb-ass. It’s not the best idea to mention death or anything related… Besides, you don’t want to put ideas into Roger’s old cranium.”

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Some guy on the team: “You can warm up by keeping score.”

Me: “B-b-b-b-but…”

Steven: “Don’t listen to him, kid. I’ll sit this first round out. You go and play.”

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Losers.

Okay, I wasn’t taking this training as serious as some of the alpha males in the bunch but I wasn’t planning on letting these dinosaurs walk all over me. They didn’t expect a whole lot of me so I might as well just confirm that prejudice. Or give them a run for their money.

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But I was a tad rusty. My shots were lousy. I either came too short or threw too far. Same problem with my passes. I needed to readjust my arm strength.

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So I went all out on my defense.

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Some guys were double my size. But I jumped and clapped like my life depended on it. I managed to block some passes and dribbles biting the old men’s calves like an annoying chihuahua.

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Of course my ‘hands-on’ defense strategy exhausted me in no time. After the first half, which lasted about 45 minutes, I was already starting to develop reversed Joker mouth.

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(When your face runs red leaving a white grin around your mouth)

Wow these veterans have physique! I go on morning runs but this is a completely different ball game. My tongue was on my knees. I had forgotten how tiring this was.

Paul: “So you played basketball yourself?”

Paul is 61. He had a close shave with death recently. Two months ago his heartbeat was only 25.

Me: “Yeah I played when I was 14 or so.”

Paul: “Gee, that must have been a very long time ago.”

Me:

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Paul: “I mean, at least a couple of years.”

I did some quick mathematics -who am I kidding, I’m super slow at mathematics- and realized I started playing when I was about 14. That ‘ll be 14 years ago next month. Half of my existence!

This was like a subconscious anniversary. Not that that period is dear to me. I got bullied. A lot.

Some girls on my team would launch the pass before they’d call my name. By the time I looked, the ball would just crash into my face and everybody would burst into laughter. It was a tough learning school. From which I still benefit today. It taught me not to give up. Ever.

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Fortunately I wasn’t the weakest link in this bunch.

Paul: “See that guy over there? That’s Walter. Super intelligent man. But incredibly useless on the field. He couldn’t score once, not even if his life depended on it. That’s because he can’t catch a single pass. He sucks. But he’s here every week. So we cut him some slack.”

I felt connected with Walter. Cause I know how it feels. But I didn’t spare him on the defense front. The poor bastard could hardly get any passes through from his team mates.

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Suddenly I was faced with the beauty of it all. We all had our personal reasons to be on that court. And to ‘give it a shot’. Sometimes we’d miss. Sometimes we’d score. But the outcome was the same on both sides: in the end we had fun. And all it involved was a metal ring and a little bit of fair play.

After one and a half hour of running around, my dad’s team (including me) won. And I contributed the full six points! That’s six more than Walter on his team. And a couple dozen less than my dad. With training being over, everybody could go back to their lives. And their wives. Except for Roger…

Me latching on to the score board: “Wow, I’m dead!”

“I mean…!”

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(Word choice! Word choice!)

In the car I had a little post game talk with my dad.

Dad: “You did good against those old bastards. You got better and better by the end of the game.”

It did come back to me. And even though I didn’t bring my A-game, I very much enjoyed the workout and the trip down memory lane. And for one whole hour and a half I didn’t think about my problems once.

Me: “You know dad, I’m really glad we did this. The fact that we did this together was the best part…And you definitely have the nicest shoes on the team.”

Dad: “I know, right.”

That night I slept like a rose.

A Derrick Rose.

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XO

Here’s another trip down memory lane:

Lace up the sneaks kick off them shoes
I’ll admit I play to win yo cause I don’t like to lose

(G. Love & Special Sauce)

Fire

(! Caution: this read could cause altitude sickness. And could contain traces of drugs, nuts and nudity.)

I touch the fire and it freezes me.
I look into it and it’s black. 

Why can’t I feel?
My skin should crack and peel.
I want the fire back.

(-Once More, with Feeling
episode 7, season 6, 
Buffy the Vampire Slayer-)

People: “How do you do it? I’m already working my 6th consecutive Sunday in order to pay my bills. Damn girl, you’re living the life. How silly are we.”

People: “So you’ve traveled half the globe, went directly to the Tour de France and are now living the bohemian life in Ibiza. What’s next on the agenda, Ev?”

Me: “Worrying. Potentially with the outlook of living in a box for a while.”
People: “Sure. Since you live such a hard life party . LOL”.

Reality catches up on you like an FBI agent wanting you to comply to the rules everybody has to comply to.

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And it seems it’s time to go back to every day life.

That cruel, pitiless place that is nothing like the colorful sketch we see in romantic comedies or read about in novels.

It looks like I will stay in Antwerp for some time to come, to recalculate and find a temporary job to pass time. And top up my finances. (Since tax payers don’t pay for sabbaticals anymore.)

Money makes the world go round. And makes me go around that world. And since I’m not a gay dancer receiving 500 euro tips from Arabic bobos in Ibiza night clubs, I have to find a real job and walk the line for a while. The production line.

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It didn’t help splurging all my ‘Tour de France’ money in Ibiza. But that’s all part of living in the moment and leaving the worrying for after.

Err…Yeah, I didn’t really succeed in doing that last part either.

The idea sounds simple. Just living in the moment, sand between my toes, sun bathing, shutting down the hard drive, recharging the batteries, hakuna matata.

But, the truth is, I have always been a terrible in the moment liver…

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Due to some serious binge-traveling I knew I would be left with a financial and possibly emotional hangover. It was immanent. The thought was everywhere I went. While I was standing on the dance floor. While I was sitting on the back of the scooter clinging on to my best friend Cedric like grabbing on to life. While I was lying on the beach… Everywhere I looked I saw people enjoying a hard earned holiday. When I flew over me, I saw escapism. Topless escapism.

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Somebody who escaped everyday life in order to live in a dream bubble for a while -with unsupported breasts!- but soon that bubble would explode like Cinderella’s carriage that would turn back into an ugly pumpkin. And she would be left in the gutter. With one shoe. And saggy tits.

My head was under attack with these thoughts. At first I thought I was just PMS-ing.

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But it was something much worse.

I got hit by melancholy.

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Wiki: Melancholy or nostalgia is a state of mind that tends towards depression and is characterized by a sad look on the past or an unfulfilled desire.

Somebody else puts it this way:

I think the eternal melancholy of grown ups is: the desire for deep tenderness. Tenderness that goes so deep there is no worldly problem that can come between that. Giving everything. Receiving everything. Always receiving. It sounds immature but I think the base of melancholy is the lack of maturity. The desire for eternal protection.”

(Goosebumps, ammiright?)

It’s about 15 years ago I first came in contact with the word ‘melancholy’. (…) During an episode of Dawson’s Creek.

1997 The cast of "Dawson's Creek." From left to right: Katie Holmes (Joey Potter), James Van Der Bee

I was too busy with the superficial love story and was just waiting for Joey and Pacey to finally kiss that I didn’t really give a lot of attention to Dawson’s obvious teenage depression. I just thought he was a big nag really.

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Only now: it seems I’ve come down with the Dawson syndrome myself. THE WORST PMS EVER!

According to the internet:
Melancholic
people are emotionally sensitive, perfectionistic introverts.

No shit! I am emotionally sensitive and a big time perfectionist. Otherwise I wouldn’t have given up ‘the perfect job’, ‘the perfect relationship’ for some more meaningful life I know is just out there somewhere.
Reality is my biggest (fr)enemy. I want my dreams to be reality. But reality doesn’t domesticate that easy. And the introvert part? Well I don’t like people that much so I live in my own head a lot. Thinking, dreaming, worrying, … Worry if I will ever make it in this life. If I will find a balance between providing for a future while not forgetting to live and breathe and enjoy the ride.

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You: “Then why didn’t you just stay a newspaper journalist with a stable life and a fix income. Do you know how much people would kill to be what you were?”

Well I couldn’t.
Exactly one year ago, Angelo started a fire in me.

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Deep in the Slovenian woods he taught me there is more to life than working your head off, paying bills and being a slave to society. “If you don’t like where you’re at in life, change the decor. If you don’t like the road that’s laid out for you, pave your own. If you don’t like the future that’s ahead of you. Draw a new one. The secret of leading a rich life is to let go. And find wealth in less.”

I was spoilt to land a job like that at such a young age. My golden ticket was handed to me, just like that. But I felt I was achieving for someone else. I was not living for me. So I went to confront, challenge and comfort myself. Comfort myself with the thought I stayed true to my gut. And dared to be me. Free. Instead of trying to be someone I was not. Caged.

But that morning in Ibiza. I was mourning.

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The fire Angelo ignited was slowly dying. Like somebody took a piss on it.

It was only later I discovered the new moon had poisoned me…

You: ??

Apparently there was a new moon rising. And apparently ghosts (demons, devils, negative energies, ets.) take control during a new moon. New moon night is a golden opportunity for the ghosts to cause distress to man. It’s only since meeting Helmut in Tasmania and studying some Chinese philosophy in China I started to pay attention to the moon. And it being a carrier of human emotions.

My thoughts churning: “I’m alone. Alone with my responsibilities. And I’m tired. I’ve traveled so far. I have gained. And I have lost. Was it all worth it? I would love to be carried on a meandering river. Like baby Moses. Knowing I will reach a destination. Instead of taking this thorny road*.”

* Remembering a passage in ‘The Art of Learning’, a book I was reading, by Josh Waitzkin:

“To walk a thorny road, we may cover its every inch with leather. Or we can make sandals.”  (Indian parable)
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Make sandals. Got it. 

Some people admire me for making the decision. Throwing away securities to dig deeper, find a deeper meaning, savoring life to the fullest.

But that morning in bed, I couldn’t help but ask myself:

Is it nobel to live according to your ideals? Or is it just dumb, self-destructive and naive?

Is this the time I wake up, lose my innocence and change into the pessimist everybody else has already become?

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I mean how stubborn can you keep holding on to something?

I just wanted to crawl into a big sweater. One that fits my knees, curl up and whisper: “Life be gentle on me. Don’t drown me. In regret, financial debt or other heart ache. Life be gentle on me. Don’t drown me. In regret, financial debt or other heart ache. Life be gentle on me. Don’t …”

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Argentinian summer love*: “Hey Ev, wanna watch the meteor shower tonight?”
(*For those who don’t know, I had an Argentinian summer love in Ibiza. See previous post!)

Me: “M…meteor shower? Yeah, sounds great.”

“…Do I have to wear a bra?”

Argentinian summer love: “Err..no…”

That night at dinner, I turned to the Argentinian for a piece of advice. Since he studied Psychology.

Yes…:

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And sexually…

Anyway.

He’s a big realist. The opposite of the big dreamy drama queen I can be. And a Fire sign. Exactly what I needed.

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To him, life is just life. You don’t have to have it together always. You just have to always live. (…) And if you fail to do so, take some drugs, it will lift your spirits right up and get rid of your anxiety.

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Me: “Err, that’s not really my cup of tea. I mean, I thought about taking a pill in Ibiza, like that Mike Posner song suggests, but I changed my mind. I don’t do drugs. I’ll just stick to this bottle of wine.”

Argentinian: “Alcohol is potentially the worst drug out there. It’s just because it’s accepted and drugs aren’t that people think it’s okay. Coke is a natural plant. In the 19th century cocaine was to be considered a panacea for everything from headaches to indigestion to aches and pains. For instance, it helps against altitude sickness. I chewed some coca leaves while I was climbing Machu Picchu.”

Me: “Uhu.”

Argentinian: “A lot of brilliant scientist and geniuses established their best work under the influence of drugs. Freud, the father of psychoanalysis, was an avid cocaine fan. The guy who discovered the double helix structure of DNA was under influence of LSD. Same goes for Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and The Beatles.”

“You think you’re healthy cause you don’t take drugs? There are enough bad chemicals in food and pharmacies. Society has each and every one of us medicated and drugged. And it’s often worse than we think. Relax, I’m not saying we should all shoot heroin.”

Me thinking: “I’d rather have you shoot me with your loaded gun.”

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Argentinian: “I’ve seen you worrying. You’re absent. You live in your mind too much. Let me just tell you: the future is not here yet. No matter what you choose, there are no bad choices. Whether you choose to leave or stay, it is going to be good.”

Me: “Okay cut the psychobabble bullshit, Freud. Let’s watch the stars and touch each other!”

I don’t know if it was the wine or the meteor chemistry above our heads but I was slowly starting to come… alive again. One scooter ride later we were on the roof of our Spanish hacienda. It was pitch dark. Only the sky was lit in an emerald glow and every 5 meters street lights were stitching the sky deck to the earth. While the bright celestial fire balls were bravely sliding down the atmosphere, something changed inside me. I felt a flow. -No, not my period.- I was feng shui-ing again. The bad demons of the new moon had left the building and I was released from evil spirits. (…) And pants.

That night on the roof, …

I got the fire back.

XO

People: “Gee Ev, you talk so openly about your intimate… thoughts. Aren’t you ever embarrassed to show yourself this naked? Or afraid of what your parents might say?”

Me: “Err no, my parents raised me this way and I don’t take myself seriously. At all. I am a free spirit. I’m breaking down my barriers, releasing my inhibitions. And spreading the word of self-love, self-development, self-reflection and self-deprecation.

 

 

When life gives you lemons…

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be creative.

 

Same goes for watermelons.

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Let’s just all embrace our blonde/cluelessness together! 

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Peace out.

 

The Sunshine Coast

I’ve always wanted to stay at a motel.

They have this fascinating atmosphere hanging around them and weird stuff always end up happening in motels. At least from what I learned from movies like ‘From Dusk Till Dawn’, ‘Me Myself & Irene’ and ‘Mulholland Drive’. I wasn’t actively looking for a motel room, I just stumbled upon a great deal through Booking.com that offered me a 70% discount.

I wasn’t expecting much even though the reviews were excellent. I just figured they were filled in by drug addicts, under-traveled older couples and poor people who were just glad to have a broken TV they could slam the hell out of. I was at least expecting cockroaches, stainy carpet and a leaking shower. But I just figured -coming from a shed, a car and a caravan- for the first time in two months I will have a room all to myself, with a queen size bed, a shower, a kitchenette, a terrace with pool access, a private beach access, a TV set and an all you can watch movie library. Oh and free WIFI too. To me this place looked like heaven.

And it was even BETTER!

It was incredibly clean. No carpet, but tiles! Clean tiles! Free cookies, tea and coffee, even fresh milk. Chilled water, tiny bath soaps, clean sheets, nice mattress, the pool in front of my door step, an extra bed to put all of my stuff on, a couch, …. I love it so much I contributed an entire blog post to this place.

Well, at least 1/3rd.

You: “So a piece of heaven for 70% discount…. What’s the catch here, Ev?”

Well ahm… every hour a plane flies over really low and it’s kind of really loud (…)

Apparently the Sunshine Coast airport is just 5K away.

But I think it’s just A LOT OF FUN.

It feels like I’m right in the middle of Top Gun or better Pearl Harbor!

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(Nurse Evelyn)

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Go Rafe! Go get them Japs!

(To the Japanese community: I’m just in character here, I have all the respect for you and your reasons to go to war with America and killing off Danny. Even though I cried a lot when that happened.)

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Pic of dying Danny

The ‘Pacific Palm Motor Inn’ is rooted in Marcoola. It’s a very small town, but centrally located to get to some nice Sunshine Coast hotspots. Well, if you can get from A to B easily. Since I don’t have a car, I have to be resourceful. Take a bus. Trust my two Hobbit feet. Or -maybe- hitchhike. I’m still very sceptic about this subject. But maybe one good opportunity is enough to make me flip the thumb.

But for now, I just decided to keep myself busy in the surroundings. I heard the sunrise is supposed to be amazing at this mountain top called Mount Coolum. The base was only 2km away from the motel. Okay, quick math: the sun rises at 5.45 that means I will have to get up at….4.40 and leave five minutes later.

You: Yeah right, who gets up in the middle of the night to catch a sunrise?

“Well, me… (jerk)”

When I opened up the front door that morning it was pitch dark. I couldn’t see a hand in front of my face. The entire way I had to use my tiny flash light, looking like a burglar since I had my black hoodie on to shelter me from mild showers. Since I didn’t want to walk next to the main road, I didn’t want to get run over like a wild animal, I followed the beach path. In other words: the unlit path.

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For about 35 minutes I walked into the darkness surrounded by weird noises, bugs and other things jumping on me or either rushing away into the bushes. At first I thought it were snakes, until I almost squished a toad that was just sitting in the middle of the road. When it hopped in the bushes the sound matched the soundtrack of the past 30 minutes. Phieuw, they’re just toads. When I arrived at the base of Mount Coolum the sky was already clearing up and the sunrise was just minutes away. I was rushing to catch it on the top and almost tripped over some slippery rocks. It was a steady 25 min hike upwards. When I arrived to the top, all bewildered from the branches brushing against my head and hair, and all sweaty from the humid climate, there was no sun to be seen. It had decided to stay under its covers. Yo wake up you big lazy ball of lava (*), this is the Sunshine Coast, you’re supposed to be on every day!

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(*) The sun is composed of hydrogen and helium plasma. It is much hotter than lava. Actually it is a big ball of hot gases.

Tough break, but still a good place to have breaky.

An hour later I was enjoying a well deserved coconut cappuccino at a coffee place nearby. Over that cup of coffee I started thinking what I should do with my time here in Marcoola. Since I had just done the major attraction and still had 6 more days to go. I decided to just chill for a change. Enjoy my pool and private beach, walk the area a bit, maybe go all the way up to Coolum Beach. Around 6 K away. Just nice and easy. Relaxing instead of rushing from A to B and draining my energy levels. There, that sounded like a deal. We even shook on it. Once I arrived in my motel room it was only 10 am and I was already bored out of my mind. I had just finished the dishes when someone knocked on the door.

Tiny voice: “Room service.”

I opened the door since I was standing right next to it and saw the wrinkly smiley face of what appeared to be the female hotel manager. Personally looking after my cookie, coffee and towel needs.

Wrinkly smiley face: “So what are you up to today, love?”

Me: “Well I don’t know, I was asking myself that same question actually.”

Wrinkly smiley face: “Oh are you into markets? There’s a market at Eumundi.”

Me: “Yeah I heard about it, but it’s a 2 hour bus drive even though it’s just 30 minutes by car. “

Wrinkly smiley face: “Oh and you don’t have a car?”

I looked at the vacant parking spot in front of my doorstep, sighed, and said: “No. No car, unfortunately. Say, you don’t happen to know if I can rent a bike here somewhere, do you?”

Wrinkly smiley face: “Well I can ask my husband if he takes you to a place where they rent out stuff. Maybe you can have a look?”

Me: “Coolness, thanks a lot wrinkly … I mean friendly lady. I’ll come by the reception at 1 pm.”

I decided to have a little tanning session by the pool first.

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When we arrived at the shop I met up with a guy named Tim. Turned out he only rented out scooters….And Mini Mokes.

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You see a Mini Moke is like a buggy, a golf cart even, but for on road purpose only. It’s built out of Mini parts -hence the first part of the name- and ‘Moke’ is an archaic dialect term for donkey. It goes up to about 80 km per hour. 90 if you really push it. They stopped being produced in 1993.

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Me: “Err… I don’t know Tim, I was actually looking for a bike. Like a mountain bike or something. Besides this is way too expensive. I’m on a budget here.”

Tim: “Well I’ll throw in this day for free, since it’s already 2 pm, and I’ll give you a ten percent discount on each day because you’re staying at the Pacific Palm and I’m hoping to do future business with them.”

That little pooch was smiling at me like a little minion. I could already picture all the fun we would have together.

minionMe: “Okay Tim, I’ll take him!”

After some paper work Tim handed me over the keys. And therefor access to the super high way towards new and unforeseen adventures. Well not really the high way, I had to stick to the scenic routes since it only has 4 gears.

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When I switched on the engine I noticed just a miiiiiiinor detail however:

THIS THING IS A MANUAL?!

Thinking bubble: “I – I – I’ve never driven a stick here in Oz. It’s already hard enough focussing on the left driving.”

My conscience: “Errr.. I don’t know Evvy, are you sure you wanna do this??”

Me and my conscience having a mental debriefing: “I don’t know. I don’t know if I can do this. But I already filled in the form… I will have to try and see…We can always pull out if I don’t make it to the end of the street.”

Tim: “Something the matter?”

Me: “Err no, no everything’s fine! Say ahm Tim, does this thing come with a helmet by any chance?”

Tim: “No…”

Me: “It’s just, I noticed it hasn’t got any airbags…And tomorrow’s the 13th…”

Tim: “Your seat belt is your safety net. (knocks twice on the roof) Have fun!”

With those words I head off. And… I got the hang of it in no time. I still don’t know how I did it. But I found my way back to the motel effortlessly. Shifting gears, watching the road, driving on the left… Sometimes I just really surprise myself. The next day I was out of there in no time. I drove all the way to the Glass House Mountains, a one hour drive away. Quite challenging with all the steep inclines, winding roads and strong downhills. I felt like I was in an amusement park. The occasional showers made it even more challenging as well as losing navigation signal on my phone, almost running out of gas in the middle of nowhere and other cars pushing my ass forcing me to pull over.

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After one hour I finally arrived at the tourist information center of The Glass House Mountains. I had already climbed the biggest obstacle of the day, and it was just getting started. I was over the moon I got there safe and sound. The two guys at the counter helped me plan out my day. They were 70+ and could have easily been mistaken for twins. Identical tourist information outfit, even the same shade of grey hair and matching mustaches.

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They supplied me with other brochures for the area once they found out I wanted to roadtrip the Hinterlands. I had no idea what the Hinterlands were 24 hours ago. If it wasn’t for wrinkly smiley face, randomly mentioning them, I would have been clueless about them.

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Apparently it’s still a well kept secret in the Sunshine Coast. Tourists do go there, especially the older ones, but mostly locals enjoy spending time in the little towns, national parks and amazing lookout points. See you don’t need all the planning in advance. It’s a waste of time and it eliminates the element of surprise.

Tourism office twins: “So you’re traveling by yourself? It’s not often we see a solo female traveler coming here. Especially not one driving a Moke. How did you get a hold of that?”

Me: “Long story. And I gotta be back before dark!”

I could already picture other backpackers sticking close to the shore. Surfing the Gold Coast, getting drunk or high at Byron Bay. Doing these busy tours to Fraser Island. Well fuck Fraser Island. Who wants to visit a breath taking all sand island with a 4WD if they can’t even drive those big sand jeeps themselves? Why would I go on a guided tour if I can manage my own tour just fine. That day I had a blast. I walked for hours, enjoyed my lunch break with an amazing view and drove back before dark. From now on I’m really roadtripping by myself. And all possibilities lie before me. Well it takes a little time to reach them, especially if they’re on the top of a steep hill, but I’ll get there!

The look on people’s faces when they see me drive by is just hilarious. It reminds me of one of those fair carts I used to not get enough from as a kid. It’s funny cause I thought about going to Landsborough, the largest commercial go-cart track in Australia, and maybe an amusement park as well. But this is the all-in-one experience. Roadtrip, fun, me-time, sightseeing and adventure.

By next year I’m sure travel agencies will have made it into a thing. Moke safaris or something.

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I will put a video online shortly. Make sure to check it out on the official Facebook page (www.facebook.com/blondeclueless) and while you’re there give us a like 🙂

If you’re looking for an authentic experience on the Sunshine Coast I would definitely recommend a Mini Moke selfdrive. You will only be the second tourist to ever do it and it has been hands down the highlight of my trip.

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Isn’t this a beaut?

The next day I continued cruising the Hinterlands. I encountered some very nice sceneries on the way, great national parks, nice little towns to have a coffee stop, … At a certain point I decided to have a stroll in a town called Nambour. Apparently this used to be the beating heart of the Sunshine Coast with lots of quirky vintage and vinyl shops. In recent years Maroochydore took over the sweepstakes. Leaving Nambour in a turmoil. The rent went through the roof, forcing shops to either relocate or close business turning it into a ghost town that attracts more junkies than tourists. Apparently drugs is becoming a big issue here. Even though they just erected a big methadone clinic, they can’t seem to get these kids off the needle.

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This is a needle I couldn’t stay off of myself. These treats are to be found right here at the Sunshine Coast at Sunshine Sunshine Espresso in Currimundi

“If these kids ought to be unemployed, they rather do it somewhere where it’s nice weather”. Talking is Leigh, he’s the owner of BackBeat Records, a record store tucked away in the streets of Nambour. And the handsomest 57 year old I’ve ever laid…

… my eyes on! Gee, disturbed mind much?! He was wearing the typical Elvis short sleeved Memphis shirt with knee shorts. Every bit of his body was clad with colorful rockabilly tattoos. And his greasy hair was pulled back nicely in a full quiff. I started talking to him after I asked him if I could take some pictures of his shop for my Instagram account. He is originally from New Zealand and has a son my age who has traveled the world by himself as well. Even though he used to be a recluse as a kid. Leigh very much supported him traveling. It had opened him up to the world and kept him off the bad track.

Leigh: “A lot of young people are fighting depression these days. It’s good that you decided to travel to get to know yourself, make up your mind about where to go instead of locking yourself up, fighting demons. Sometimes the answers just can’t be found in your own bedroom and you have to just explore those horizons. I had a depression happened to me once. Luckily I climbed out of there by myself. I was unemployed and came to the coast to be unemployed and surf all day. Nowadays lots of young people come here to be unemployed and use drugs. If they don’t have money they steal. We’ve been getting lots of complaints recently. Locals are starting to worry, leaving town. Or die, since the people who live here are mostly retired.”

Leigh had touched a very important subject there. A lot of (young) people are very much struggling with mental issues. In my opinion society just puts a lot of pressure on them/us. Pressuring us to find jobs, start a family, buy a house, making the economic system turn full throttle… With disregard of our mental health.

Especially my generation is suffering. We are brought up believing that anything is possible, we can attend any university we want, pick any career we like, earn whatever wage we prefer. A big house and two cars? You name it, if you work hard, hand in your freedom and give up your personal life it’s all yours. Some people end up working hard their entire lives and start living once they’re 50+. But some people don’t get past that busy crossroad they reach in their early twenties. They stare to all those different directions and the image turns black. They freeze. And the longer they stand there, frozen, the more their self confidence melts down the drain. They lose faith. In themselves. In their future. The more society confirms the idea they’re not achieving, not applying, simply throwing away all their possibilities, simply being useless. The deeper they sink.

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The worst feeling in life is failure. And the only cure is achievement. We tend to look for this in a job, a family life, a big ass TV, … . Some end up using drugs. Because it’s the only way to get that confidence back, feel like they can conquer the world.

Well if you’re standing on that crossroad and feel lost, get even more lost. Go travel. Find out what drives you, what excites you, what fires your engine. Use some time to grow within yourself, to broaden your horizons, and open your narrow mind to see that some of the obstacles you deal with can be conquered and you possess that power to do so. A lot of people I know feel they aren’t succeeding in life. They feel like everybody else around them is doing so much better, they even included me to be one of those ‘in charge of everything’-people. Well if there’s one thing people are really good at: it is keeping up appearances.

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We love to make others believe we have the best jobs, the most compatible partner, the brightest kids, … Facebook and other social media are a big instigator to other people’s unhappiness. It’s a place where people throw the sprinkles of their lives right in your face. But maybe those sprinkles are sitting on a pile of shit, instead of a Chocolate Fudge Sundae? No one posts pictures of a rainy day. But believe me, nobody lives on the sunshine coast either. Everybody has his or her cross to bare and even on the Sunshine Coast showers are part of the daily life. They even happen 5 or 6 times a day. Heavy and abrupt. But after 5 minutes the sun comes out. And that’s the comforting part of it. And besides. 365 days of sun wouldn’t be much exciting either, would it?

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I was getting a downpour here at the top of Mount Ngungun the other day. A colleague commented on this picture, saying that rain is underrated. Let’s turn that into the quote of the day. Or the week even.

Let the sunshine in, don’t be a recluse and close yourself off from the world, the safe surroundings of your bedroom won’t give you the answers. But don’t get scared away by a little rain either. Take the good with the bad. And when things go wrong, just remember there’s something good or even better on the way. Just have faith. And let go.

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Mental health is one of the most important things you can possess guys. If you lose your marbles it’s all downhill from there. I am typing this while Australia Today is reporting about a guy in Cairns who has just stabbed his wife and mother in law to death this morning. Apparently when authorities arrested him, he was laughing.

Keep safe. Keep sane. And here are some more inspiring quotes from the greatest motivational speaker of all time.

XO

Wanderlost

I got to thinking the other day. I wonder how you people experience my travels… You probably think I’m doing only fun stuff, that every day is a Saturday and that I’m living in a dream bubble that will make me unable to ever fit into everyday society again.

Well I must disappoint you.

I’m not just traveling. I’m struggeling. Hurting. Pushing myself to my limits. Every day.

I’m not taking a gap year to run away from things. I’m taking a personal year to run right into things. Face challenges. Asking reality to punch me in the face.

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You raising your eyebrows: “Well if you’re hurting, then why do we only see happy travel pics on your Instagram Ev?”

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Well, first of all, Instagram is built for these kinds of pics. You just present things in the nicest way possible. It’s fun to play around with it. To build a network. Getting to know other travelers who are as wanderlust as you through breath taking pictures. It’s meant to inspire. It is meant to be liked. If I post a pic of myself, comment ‘bad day, FML, everybody go to hell’. Then who’s gonna paint that little heart in that loving shade of red? ❤

If you want to look behind ‘the scenes’ of colorful Instagram posts and perfect filters. Go check out the blog. That’s where I like to put the genuine emotions into words.

I’ve been clear from the beginning that this is an honest blog about traveling and finding a destination in life. Well, I can inform you that I had a first meltdown. In Melbourne. As you know, I’m traveling alone from now. And it’s not because I’m now flying solo I suddenly hit a low. It was just the first time, after being around a lot of people at the farm and all, I got a chance to realize some stuff. Since there is no one other than me, myself and I to distract me. I’ve realized I’m not only wanderlust. I’m pretty damn wanderlost. I wander this place not knowing where I’m going.

You raising your eyebrows again: “I thought that was kinda the point Evvy?”

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Well yeah, of course, but only now I realize: This is not the right way.

To be honest. I hate these hostels. I hate it has all these people in them. And I hate the posters on the walls promoting these stupid binge drinking cruises. ‘This is your ticket to party and travel!’ I hate this shallow lifestyle and I hate being part of it.

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You adding a sigh (and maybe some alcohol) to those highly raised eyebrows: “Well do you wanna go home??”

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Me: “Hell no!”

I’m glad I’m away. I’d rather feel ‘depressed’ (I’m trying to look for a less heavy loaded word) at the other side of the world, where it’s 40 degrees, rather than sit in that stupid country I call home. But I need to get of the beaten track ASAP! Once you’re in the backpacker scene you kind of get pushed into a direction that expects you to hop from one touristic hotspot to another. But actually, I don’t want this at all. I don’t want to spend heaps of money experiencing mind numbing tours and day trips that thousands, probably even millions of people have done before me just because travel agencies advise it as a ‘Must See’. Remember what happened on the Great Ocean Road? The Great Ocean Let Down is what it was to me. It just doesn’t fulfill me. And it is not the goal of my journey to begin with. I strive to look for meaningful experiences, here. The added value, you know? I see this trip as a way to explore, experience different things in order to find my destination in life. I want to be challenged and I am willing to suffer. I’m shaking so much while I’m typing this since I just traveled all the way to the airport with 30 kilo’s strapped around my body. I could have just taken the tram to the bus station before coming to the airport, but sometimes, I just prefer the hard way. I think it’s all part of the trip. Pushing limits, see how far your mind and body can go. Stepping out of the safe waters and taking a plunge into the unknown.

I’m browsing every street, every corner, looking for something. Anything to feed my soul. I’ve noticed I’ve started looking for schools and stuff. I just really feel the need to learn and develop myself. That’s why I did some martial arts training while in Melbourne. That’s why I reached out to this guy in Tasmania, the so called cannibal who’s going to eat me for dinner. He calls himself a traveler in life. He has had a long one so far -he’s 70 or something- with lots of different directions and he is very much into zen. I just know I can learn so much from this person but I must say I am having some difficulties trying to convince him. Once he found out I was in Melbourne, he sent me an email asking me to reconsider coming over. Since his place is super secluded. And there’s nothing there but trees, mountains and animals – yes, also brown snakes and redbacks. Well, I felt really sad after this email. I am one thousand, one million!, percent sure I want to go there. I am dying to find a place away from these hostels, this busy road, to finally experience something real, and here he is writing me off as some shallow backpacker, who is looking for shallow thrills and nightly hookups. Don’t tell me what’s good or not good for me, the only person who knows what’s good or not good for me is me. I have been living with ME for 27 years. And here you are thinking you only need 27 seconds to pin me down. I’m much more than what meets the eye, mister. I just want to pick your brain.

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That particular meltdown day in Melbourne I sat on my bunk and stared into the big nothingness for a while. When I got up I looked in the mirror and told myself to give us a smile. After all I have nothing to not smile about. While my eyes looked down, they spotted a booklet on the chair. ‘The Answers are Blowing in The Wind’, the cover whispered to me. It belonged to the British girl I’m sharing the room with who wasn’t in at the moment. I thought it was an actual book, so I was triggered to open it, but soon I found out it was some kind of diary. I didn’t mean to read it, but my eye caught a couple of bullet points on what seemed a ‘to do list for 2016’.

* Go to therapy (…)

* Try living by yourself (…)

* Go on a date. Be convinced you are worth of meeting someone and deserve to be loved.

* Eat with your hands without being afraid of germs.

* …

It was only then I saw there were wet anti-bacterial wipes lying next to it…

And it suddenly became more clear to me why she popped pills in the middle of the night. Maybe she’s on some meds to fight against depression or something…

Then it dawned on me. Maybe I’m not the only one who feels a little out of place here. Maybe we are all pretty damn wanderlost. We all carry our backpack on a road that is mostly to be defined while walking it. Life is a journey and it is no shame to be honest about this to yourself. A booklet. Or a blog.

With these comforting thoughts I went outside. And booked myself a boxing class for the next morning. I figured I needed to punch some negativity out of my knuckles before my zen retreat in the Tasmanian mountains. I don’t know when I will meet up with Helmut. But if he doesn’t want me I will knock on his door either way, look him in the eye and convince him that I’m worth his time and effort.

(Please still remember to send a heli over St Mary’s if you don’t hear from me in more than a week. I am still a little worried I might end up on his plate with a nice side of homegrown veggies)

XO

Murphy’s law

The days before you leave on a big trip, you will have to accept Murphy’s law. Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. In one day my cell phone, sim card and tooth broke.

g'day

tooth

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Thank God I could fix an appointment with a dentist 48 hours before my departure. Thank you Joris Wilmaers for giving me a ‘holiday smile’ again. And for giving me a contact number from your friend in Hong Kong.

XO