Since the big DNA reveal last week, I have spent a lot of time thinking about my Sub-Saharan African DNA. I have a sort of sense that it is rare to find out something so completely new about oneself at this stage of life. One thing that makes it strange is the way it invites me to recall and then rethink hundreds of little moments in my past. For instance, the fact that ever since I was a child, I’ve been asked over and over again some variation of this question:
Why are you brown? People usually didn’t put in precisely those terms, but it was always what they meant.… Read more
Ever since DNA testing got big a few years ago, I have had a sort of (morbid) fascination with it. I especially gravitated towards stories of mistaken identity, revealed family secrets, and reunions of long-lost relatives. Last year I watched in vicarious delight as Tony’s cousin—who had grown up as an only child—discovered and reconnected with the brother she never knew she had. I was pretty sure nothing like that could happen to me, since my family has been Mormon for generations, and is therefore peppered with more than its share of amateur genealogists.
I retain a healthy scepticism of any genealogical line purporting to go all the way back to 525 A.D.… Read more
My work trip in Berlin last month was mostly work, aside from a few nights out on the town with new friends. One evening we bonded at a Cuban cocktail bar over several pages of sugary cocktails, including some kind of hideously sweet bright green beer that is apparently a thing in Berlin.
Then there was an even more memorable evening where we randomly ended up in a German karaoke bar next to Alexanderplatz. Karaoke is one of those things that is so individually cultural, and yet simultaneously so weirdly universal. Suffice it to say that I heard the same Josh Groban song twice in one night.… Read more
The title of this post probably sounds metaphorical, but it isn’t. I really did spend Monday to Friday last week in Berlin, playing a game that could perhaps best be described as a cross between Capture the Flag, Dungeons and Dragons, and Model United Nations.
How did this come about? A bit randomly, as these things do. I quit my job last summer, and in the intervening months have been doing a combination of work on Hiraeth, web design and marketing for Tony’s new business, freelance projects, taking the Dutch classes I’ve been putting off so long, and brushing up on my reading skills in Latin and Arabic for grad school.… Read more
Happy Brexit week! Hahahahaha. Just kidding. Don’t throw anything at me. Anyway, I guess we may get a bit of a reprieve, if that march yesterday is any indication. Hurrah for drawing this whole thing out even more. Not. A few weeks ago, Dutch News (local English-language news podcast and website) launched a cosy little series called ‘Brexit and me‘, where people could share their feelings and contingency plans in the run-up to Brexit. British people mostly, of course, since they are the people around here who are in general most directly affected by their country’s imminent retreat from Everyone Else.… Read more
When I discovered by accident the other day while googling Kamala Harris that Marianne Williamson is running for president, my first thought was, “oh, she’s going to need her quote back”. This quote, to be exact:
“…Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.
I have in general an excellent opinion of the Dutch education system. In fact, I would cite the education my children are receiving here as one of my top reasons for living in the Netherlands. The variety and quality of the almost exclusively publicly-funded schools is astounding, and the autonomy, respect, and responsibility kids enjoy here render it unsurprising to me that Dutch teenagers consistently score among the happiest in the world.
That said, I’m also fascinated by the various controversies that surround the way secondary education in the Netherlands is organised. During the past four years that we have lived here, and whilst shepherding two children through their transition from primary to secondary school, I have had ample–perhaps excessive–opportunity to discover and discuss these controversies with both Dutch people and foreign parents with children in the Dutch education system.… Read more
Nine years ago I wrote a blog post where I posed this question, mostly to myself: Are you an expat or an immigrant? That post was the summation of a couple of years of self-reflection navel-gazing; i.e. expat blogging. Being an expat–or a “serial expat”, as I started calling myself when we seemed unable to stay in the same country for more than a few months–began as a grand adventure. I think one way to describe those years is to say that I spent a lot of time back then seeing myself through other people’s eyes. It is almost impossible not to do that when you suddenly uproot yourself and move halfway around the world.… Read more
A couple of weeks ago when all my Facebook friends were posting about seeing Wonder Woman, I went to book tickets on the spur of the moment for myself and Axa and discovered that, unaccountably, it opened weeks later here in the Netherlands than practically anywhere else in the world. Undaunted, I used the intervening time to get as many friends as possible to join me with their kids after the film finally opened. We ended up with 29 of us and a pre-movie dinner at Wagamama. Some of the kids were even persuaded to pose for a photo doing Wonder Woman arms. … Read more
The other day I came across this article about the love locks on Paris bridges. You know, the romantic tradition where you and your lover affix a lock to a bridge to symbolise your undying love, and then dramatically toss the keys into the river below.
Except that according to the article this tradition isn’t romantic; it’s vandalism. I suppose they do have a point. It was OK when the first creative and enterprising lover did it. But if each of the hopeless romantics in the world puts a lock on a Paris bridge, all the Paris bridges will sooner or later collapse from the accumulated weight of all those locks.… Read more