A lot has changed in the past two weeks. Every day I check the RIVM (Dutch version of the CDC) for current information on the alarming rise in covid-19 cases. Although they make it clear the number is an extreme underestimate, since testing is limited to at-risk people with serious symptoms, and only one per household. No, who am I kidding. I check it multiple times per hour, even though I know they only update it once a day around 3pm.
On Thursday the Dutch government limited gatherings to under 100 and told everyone to work from home if possible, but–crucially–did not close schools (or restaurants, bars, etc.,… Read more
To put it rather gently, I have tendencies towards anxiety. Of the health-related sort. I have never related to a fictional character more than when the 16-year-old protagonist of John Green’s novel Turtles All the Way Down is finally kissing the boy she likes but can’t stop being distracted by thinking about the resulting transfer of millions of bacteria between their mouths.
I have learned to manage this issue pretty well through a combination of good scheduling, deep breathing, positive self-talk, guided meditation, weighted blanket, CBD oil, acupuncture, baths, and numerous other forms of self-care. I know how to recognise unhealthy thought spirals, and have a strict rule of never, ever Googling my symptoms–a rule that I am fairly successful at keeping most of the time.… Read more
I have been thinking about this impending birthday for quite awhile. I’m not sure why 40 is the age that’s really making me take stock of my life. I looked back at a few blog posts around when I turned 30, and apparently that was just another birthday, and didn’t even merit a mention. Maybe it’s because I was in the thick of raising small children (and goats and chickens), and just generally recovering from the Great Recession and the mess it had made of our business and our move to Italy. I was dealing with too many external crises to manage an internal one too.… Read more
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
I am still trying to wrap my head around this being the beginning of a new decade, as well as a new year. My approach towards New Year’s resolutions is basically nonexistent, since I am apt to reinvent myself on the spot whenever I feel the need, which tends to be multiple times in a year. However, I do love telling stories. In fact, the only possible way for me to ever make sense of my life is by telling it back to myself. Not once, but a thousand times. Memory is a funny thing. Our brains are constantly arranging and rearranging the past to make meaning out of it; reinforcing the parts that fit our own internal narrative and discarding the other unhelpful bits.… Read more
Strange that it has only been two years since my precipitous entry into the world of podcasting, first behind the mic and then shortly thereafter between the earbuds. In the past couple of years podcasts have become an integral part of my life. I listen to them while cycling, while walking my dog, while making dinner. I am guessing I average at least an hour of podcast listening per day, and some days it is at least twice that. I am even active in an online podcast club (like a book club, but for podcasts). And I have by now tried out enough different types of podcasts that I pretty much know what I like.… 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
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.