Simple Truths

I’m new to blogging, so the likes on the blog, even if its just one or two, have been a new kind of rush! I used to work in a cafe inside a casino complex. No matter where you were inside, the bathrooms or having a coffee, you could always hear this w
ave-like hum of what sounded like bags of coins hitting the metal mouths of the cash machines. This was not because anyone was winning, it was just some audio carrot being dangled in front of the noses of the devoted patrons.
So last night, as I was going into detail about Likes to Dan, eyes sparkling, he side eyed me with a sage warning about paying that too much attention. Suddenly sober, I actually considered it, and arrived at the opinion that it’s wonderful to have an indicator of appreciation, and that as long as I don’t turn a Like into a dangling carrot for myself, and keep on writing regardless, then I will continue to get out of this what I need  – practise, pleasure, and the simple daring of having made something public.

Yesterday’s POA was to finish my old Process Book and start a new one. I am so pleased to say that I’ve finished the old one! Finally, its not a big, complicated mess in a box anymore. It’s been overviewed, ordered and stacked, all it needs now is binding! It took way more time than expected, obviously, but it was done properly 🙂 So as of today, I can start documenting the new things and move on.

On another note, I have intense muscle pain from Cross Power class yesterday. Wow. I really kicked my own ass. Also, the class reiterated a lesson I’m in the process of learning  – grit. For those who haven’t stumbled across the TED talks and Youtube clips about it – it’s got to do with endurance, and your ability to continue doing things through discomfort. I’ve also had this dawn on me in a yoga class. The teacher once said, ‘Yes, your body is suffering, but it’s just for this moment, you won’t be here forever’.
Also, yesterday, we were put through a rigorous routine of lunges, kettle bell lifts, etc, which you had to complete in your own time. I was the last one done and I realised that my mind had allowed me to take breaks in between exercises, whereas the others regardless of mental fatigue, just went onto the next one. It started to come through that once more, that discomfort is essential to growth. And that the ‘pushing through’ is just a passing moment.

I applied the same thinking when I got tired of working yesterday and it helped me get through the mundanity and just keep it moving. Its a simple kernel of truth, and so essential to what I struggle with – finishing things, being consistent, seeing things through all the way. Oh! Another thing that really helped was having a boiler room IMG_20170208_143255485.jpg
DJ set playing in the background. I was listening to a Drum n Bass session by DJ Marky. Like a jet pack!

As you may have gathered by now, I learn a lot from Dan, who was raised with such undivided attention and foresight, that he has become an exemplary adult early in life. My parents, bless them, gave me what they could, and a lot of that was positive, however there are swathes of simple truths no one had the energy to teach me and so I’m needing to do extra ‘semesters of self’. Everybody does them, no one is ‘finished’, but I think that the magic of a switched on parent lies in the ability to clear a few obstacles in advance. If not, it comes out in seemingly unimportant things – like the laundry. I used to always do little half jobs – put the laundry in, but not take it out. Hang it, but not put it away, leaving it for whatever fairies may come, i.e Dan. One day, recently, he spelled out that when I do that, it’s not done. I haven’t actually ticked off, ‘Do Laundry’, it’s still in progress, still on my plate. Not finished. That’s all it took. Someone to teach me that from step one, as though I was a child. Because that’s literally the level where I left off. Sometimes we have an adult standing in front of us, with varying degrees of skill. The more accomplished skills do not rule out the possibility that they might be stuck at level zero in another area, which seems like ‘year one course work’ standing outside of that. It helps to bear in mind that some people’s teachers didn’t make it to class that day.

This is the quote by Anais Nin, which was written in my birthday card this year from Dan:

“We do not grow absolutely, chronologically. We grow sometimes in one dimension, and not in another; unevenly. We grow partially. We are relative. We are mature in one realm, childish in another. The past, present, and future mingle and pull us backward, forward, or fix us in the present. We are made up of layers, cells, constellations.”

Fresh POA: Get ready, Help clean BnB guestrooms, Fetch Diploma, Go to museum/something inspiring, Make a log of the new inspiration.


Back on the Wriggly Horse

Once more, I find myself luxuriating in my privilege, this time from a cushy bean bag seat in freelance-friendly cafe, laptop poised to receive my millennial musings. It’s 10am and I’ve just come from a morning Cross Power class, which I feel is the very heart of Dutch feminism. Walking in, there was a male straggler from the class before getting extra tuition from his female boxing instructor. Out the corner of my eye I saw them work through the last minutes, and at the end she cuffed his ear and did a few faux punches at his tummy, which he playfully ducked as he cocked his head to the side and giggled, feeling rewarded. I looked around me at Karina, our beautifully buff teacher and all the women around me with muscles that could eat my muscles and felt justified in my struggle to keep up in general over here.

So yesterday I was trying location changes to help my variety-seeking mind to sustain focus. If my brain is just tricked into either thinking its having fun, or that its moved on to something different, then I don’t hit a wall so soon. I decided to get an early start with work yesterday instead of exercising first, and was going by 9:30. At 11:30 Dan happened to come down to the kitchen for something and I launched into the distraction 100%. He knew what was going on and suggested I change location as discussed and move upstairs to his workspace, as he was about to leave. Eventually I did so and it took me a while but I managed to get into a flow again.

Just a note about what I’m working on at the moment – Before I can start with fresh inspiration I have to order the chaos of my old project into a Process Book format. This means, all the bits and pieces of things I’ve developed from the previous (failed) collection, needs to be ordered in such a way that I can refer back to it myself, as well as with teachers. Since I’m using the same idea as a foundation for this new project, it needs to be legible.
I got quite far with the last project – developed and paid for digital printing of fabric, paid people to help me sew garments and make patterns professional. Going through my ‘Almost doesn’t count’ is kind of draining, so I’ve decided not to loathe myself about what happened next.

Believing I was in control, I decided that going to the supermarket to get something for lunch was a good idea and that I would be walking right by the sweets aisle. Given the fact that in the past I’ve turned to sugar as a mind numbing morphine drip against stress, I now know to feed myself with things that help cognitive function, like protein-packed eggs, avocado or perhaps some lovely lentils.

Finding myself drifting towards the till gingerly clutching a double pack of brownies, a family sized slab of chocolate and the most processed of ready made wraps, I was binge ready :/

I made it through the brownies and wrap, didn’t eat the slab but spent three valuable hours of the day in a sugar coma watching youtube. Dammit! I was so ashamed to have to relay this sorry report when I was later asked, ‘how it went with the location changes? J ‘ I was comforted at least by the fact that I had gotten through 80% of the work that I had set for myself that day, during the hours that I did find focus. And also by Dan mentioning that working from home, on your own discipline, with no real imminent deadline is just hard for everyone.

I fixed it by finishing some home chores before bed, having an early night and therefore actually feeling up to a fitness class this morning. Now, I can also tick off having written my blog post (yay for unprecedented consistency!) and finish off the old stuff so I can move on to the new inspiration.

POA: Go home, eat, change, finish old process book, start the new one!

Inching along

Got enough sleep last night and was properly awake by 8:15 today. I know that’s late to many, but with a self imposed schedule that’s going in the direction of disciplined for me.

Quick recap of my day – I managed to touch base on all the things on my POA yesterday, except I didn’t quite finish the process books, I just made progress, thus the title – Inching Along. I did manage to be on time for my appointment with my teacher. I even went to yoga after that to break up the day. Only crap thing, I didn’t work when I came back. I had dinner and went straight to bed. That habit will have to change, unless I’m doing really early mornings and truly getting started at something like 7 (!). Which from this viewpoint seems insurmountable.

Unexpected bonus of yesterday’s yoga class – got paired up for partner stretching with handsome stranger, hihihi! Got home all giggly and confessed to Dan at once, as I do, haha! Bless him, for totally getting what triggers the latent girly mechanism of giggling and for chuckling right along with me. I’m a lucky girl ❤

Plan Of Action: Work on Process Books. Go outside every two hours, just quickly and see if that sustains my focus and productivity. If I finish something significant, I can go to fitness class. Also, try to swap work shift, contact Pattern Making teacher about new semester.

Saturday Shenanigans

The two biggest events of the weekend were, a museum visit and a club night. After my smoothie bowl at terribly trendy cafe, I felt full of energy and headed to Foam photography museum. I still have about 10 days left on my museum card, so I better use it. I saw the work of Hiroshi Sugimoto, most impressive was his roomful of seascape photographs. Coming from a seaside town myself, oceans make me feel at home. He also had some detailed black and white wildlife photographs and really intense portraits, which I thought might be good to download from the internet and do shading exercises with.
They had a student artist too, who had one picture depicting clothes used to form a sculpture. Again, this idea of appropriating clothing for art purposes pops up. I saw it at Jean Tinguely’s exhibition at the Stedelijk museum as well.

With my last blog post I’d made a plan of action at the end. I was pleased with myself for actually having achieved it in that order. Last on the list was Go to Work. I work part time at a local cinema. What makes the place shine for me, are my colleagues. I’ve been working there for about 6 months and getting to know them has been great in surprising ways: as an expat in the Netherlands, doing an international course, with a partner whose parents are British expats themselves, I didn’t actually have much Dutch friends. Working at this cinema has given me access to Dutchies in most age groups – and it moves my Dutch along too, which is hard over here because everyone speaks English so well, so you never really have to flex that muscle.

After work one of our colleagues was having a house warming party, with the option of going clubbing after. By the time we arrived, it was clubbing time. I hadn’t been proper clubbing for ages. Since I’ve been immersed in school for the past few months, I’ve really needed every minute to work, and if I wasn’t working, sleep has been the next priority. Now, at the beginning of the semester I figured I could afford it. I’ve also really been misssing dancing! The way it works in Amsterdam, is that you have to go to gigs if you really want proper dancing, where that’s the only focus. On a regular Tuesday, the vibe here is more, go to a bar and talk, as you become increasingly drunk but have to confine your enthusiasm to the parameters of a barstool.

We went to a club called Shelter. A black cube unassumingly placed next to the side of the towering Adam building in Amsterdam North. From the centre, you always have to take the 5 minute ferry to North, which added to the drama of the evening as we sailed to the venue in the middle of the night. You have to go down a staircase into the club, which delivers you into the authoritative care of the firm but friendly bouncers just doing their job of rummaging through your things. Next you’re conveyed to the guy who takes your money (17,50!) but jokes reassuringly all the while and with whom you somehow get the feeling you have mutual friends. It would have been less confusing if they were stereotypically steely. Feeling welcome, we scurried around for coins for the lockers and duly stripped for the manufactured environment created lovingly for us. Some acclimatisation really was required since, well, we were not on pills.
What a great night it turned out to be. They really took the time to imagine who would be coming to the party every week. The anti-decor decor was followed through from the tastefully lit dancefloor right to the smokers room, which was not just a pokey hole of ostracisation, but instead was granted a spacious lounge, with seats (!). The DJs were playing techno, of course, but not every song was characterless. They really had the dancer in mind and therefore it was my time to shine! I took this rare opportunity to let out all the moves, yes all of them, even the crouching tiger hidden boxer 🙂 After much exertion, my enthusiasm ran out at about 4am. It took me another half an hour of heartfelt goodbyes before I was back on the ferry.

A thunderous hangover heralded the reality of Sunday afternoon, when I eventually opened my bleary eyes. No such thing as a free lunch, and the bill had landed on my table with an unceremonious thud! Today, Monday, I’m back on the wriggly horse and want to achieve the following.

Yoga. Meeting with teacher at school. Process books up to date (The old one and the new stuff I saw this weekend).


So that was a non-starter. I rushed off to yoga and missed it by 5 minutes because I misjudged how far it was and had been cornered into a stop and chat by our airbnb guests. Nice guests but I really did not have the literal minutes to spare :/

Sigh, anyway. Line in the sand. Its Saturday morning and I’ve decided that my morning ritual will include writing a blog post of the day before. In the evenings I just want to shut down the day, so it’s better to have a writing appointment in the morning. Also helps to wake up my brain.

So, what happened yesterday. It started with the best intentions – making that “global” planning for the semester. And I did make progress. It really helped that I used my earplugs to drown out the noise of the city and potential guest activity in the kitchen. I also had to periodically talk my capacity to focus back to the terrible task at hand – systematically overviewing and putting everything in its own planned place , yiiiiiikes. There is nothing worse. I managed to get an overview of the actual time there is to do this – it comes down to a core of 3,5 months, really. But when it came down to prioritising when to do what, I got all wobbly and turned to youtube. First for just a break, then an extended break, which quickly dissolved into limply calling Dan just to hear some human chatter and then calling it a day!

Lucky for me or unlucky for me he was in the same rut and we made plans to meet and go for dinner. We rolled a joint and ended up at ‘t Zwaantje on the negen straatjes. What an authentically ‘cheap and cheerful’ little Dutch gem. Because I hadn’t taken Dan’s sage advice to get out the house to break up the day, I’d been cooped up for hours. My fun bar was so low that by the end of the dinner I wasn’t ready to pack it in and took a second deadly hit of the pure joint :/ bad idea.

Quick aside about my relationship with weed – In my early adulthood I used it recreationally for partying, it popped the music during a heady time. This was in SA, weed was ubiquitous and joints were mixed with tobacco, my old friend. Upon moving to Amsterdam, it was a good fit that weed was not only readily available, but totally not a big deal with the law. Easy skanking. The strength of weed here though has really not been like anything I knew back in SA. One has to be careful lest you find yourself levitating above the fridge, fully freaked out by the sofa. Not my idea of a good time. So when I’ve been jointing, I’ve mixed it with tobacco, my old friend, and this has been good. You know what it is, though, I’ve long been equally enthralled by the high, as well as with the visual drama of unfurling smoke tumbling out along with tendrils of thought. My friends are always curbing me from inhaling so deeply. And herein lies the problem when you’re now 30, want to stop that dirty habit with tobacco, your old friend, but you still inhale way too deeply from a pure joint on an Adult Friday evening. I got way too high, was dutifully carted off back home by trusty husband, was totally not ready to be back inside and had a tempremental episode, through which Dan had to lovingly trip sit me until I fell asleep. Winning.

So this morning, I was eager to get back on this wriggly horse. Minor set back with the yoga, but just ordered overpriced, beautiful looking smoothie from over-branded coffee concept store and am determined to restore adult card *breathesinchestswells.

POSITIVE TAKEAWAY: from last nights shenanigans, Dan introduced me to Aphex Twin’s Selected Ambient Works – fave: Ageispolis. Also just discovered Anderson .Paak, positive vibes – fave: The bird. Also living off Kaytranada’s Glowed Up. What!

PLAN OF ACTION: Go home, Shower, finish planning, fix my hair, go to work.



Intro and Context

img_20170201_155029380Hi *waves*

So it’s come to this – I’m starting a blog! The suggestion that I should has drifted by in various incarnations and in various seasons. Why now? I don’t know, it just seems called for.. well, I do know actually. This is me dipping my toe into the waters of being comfortable being known by others (!). Doesn’t matter if its just one or two anonymous others, but being seen in my ‘It is what it is’ has long been a knee jerk matter of discomfort for me.

I am a South African living my life in the Netherlands. I’ve been studying Fashion Design in Amsterdam for the past 4,5 years, but this study is not why I came here. In a nutshell – I came as an au pair; wanted to stay; was convinced by my boyfriend-now-husband that I could if I studied; chose to pursue my long time dream of fashion design and eventually got into a school in Amsterdam.

I’m currently attempting my graduation semester for the second time, and looking back am grateful for the redo. Last semester I tracked my progress via Photo Booth videos, this time I want to open my process up a bit. Hold it up to the light of day and see what happens. As an artist I know that even though the end product is what’s on show, the process holds all the drama and is the unfolding display of the human. I’ve always been fascinated by us as creatures and what happens when we’re authentically creative.

So this is creative creature #1987 coming out, and wanting the world to know.