I was standing in line at the store when he came in, grabbing a bouquet of red flowers at the entry, and queued up just behind me. He must have been in his late forties, early fifties, maybe; he wasn’t particularly handsome, but looked pretty stylish, wearing a pair of slate-blue trousers, a matching jacket on his arm, with a well-cut shirt of red dots on white. His movements hid an impatience that almost prompted me to offer him my place in the line, even though I had only one item to buy; and I could hardly take my eyes off his smile.
Every year I decide to be easy on myself between the beginning of December and the end of January (I usually set the 22nd, my birthday, as a deadline). This would mean not taking up any extra obligations, travels (other than going home for the holidays), etc.
As always, the first two week of December was not only the toughest at work, but I also went to Ghent for Fusion Freeze, where I both took workshops and performed, twice, as well as gave altogether 5 classes (including 2 trips to Nivelles) in replacement for dancer friends of mine.
I hope to have a quiet week next, and then I’ll be home – so I’m also taking a break from blogging. If all goes well, I’ll be back on the 22nd. Happy holidays to all!
“Can we change the subject, please?”
“Why would we?”
“Because it makes me nervous. Can we please talk about something else?”
“Oh come on! Why do you insist, anyway?”
“Because I really do not want to talk about this topic.”
“Oh, you don’t have to – we’ll do all the talking.”
“I don’t want to listen to it either.”
“But we want to talk about it.”
“Okay, I’ll just go upstairs, then.”
“Oh come on! You know we don’t have any taboo topics here. And we’re just joking around anyway.”
“Well, if you find this funny, it’s up to you, but I don’t, and if you insist on continuing, I’ll just go.”
“You know we are like this, it’s not that you can change how we are, really.”
“Really. Anyway, I’ll go upstairs now.”
“See you later!”
But somehow I am the one labelled unreasonable.
Beverlo is about 3 hours distance from Bruxelles by public transport. Eindhoven is about 50 kms from Beverlo. One of my favourite musicians, Totó la Momposina, gave a concert in Bruxelles on the day I was away in Aarschot/Betekom to perform. She gave another concert, in Eindhoven, a week later, on the day there was a whole-afternoon open stage festival – organised by Johanna – in Betekom.
I felt a bit bad about rushing in and leaving so early from the festival, even though the real choice was not between staying a little or a lot: it was between staying a little or not going at all – I had a ticket to a concert, after all, about 50 kms away.
This time I printed my itinerary – I didn’t have the time to get lost and find my way –, nevertheless, I stopped every now and then at a map along the road (by the way, the region is indeed a biker’s paradise, as it advertises itself) to check if I was where I should be. At one of these, just this side of the border, I ran into another biker.
‘Are you lost?’
‘No, just making sure all is ok’
‘Where are you headed, anyway?’
‘but… that’s some 40 kms away!’
‘I know’, I said, though I was a bit perturbed, as I had counted it couldn’t have been more then 30.
Indeed, it wasn’t: I even had time for a coffee/snack break and arrived in good time.
Totó la Momposina is 77 years old now, still she sings and dances through her concert. She explains about each song and musical genre they play: about their history, the related traditions, the dances, the instruments, and the lyrics, making the show as much of an educational experience as it is fun, artistic and festive. She also gives credit to all the composers, except for herself – it’s the members of the band who have to do it for her.
The fact that I planned to cycle along the Zeeland coast the following two days , but not only I had to come home and spend the whole week at home, three weeks after I still don’t have my voice, is another story. The “three weeks after” part may or may not be due to some other factors as well, stories for another day. So, have I at least done something stupid?
It’s hard to tell a story while I’m living it (for the lack of time, if nothing else); on the other hand, I prefer not to write when I’m ill, to avoid (publicly!) documenting those moods – hence the delay.
A friend asked me, when I told him, “have you at least done something stupid, to get so sick?”
I’ll leave that to you to decide.
The story starts on Friday, May 26th, a day off work. Having run some errands, which of course took more time than I’d though they would, I left Brussels at 12.30, an hour later than planned. I say I left Brussels, but this being a biking trip it took me about an hour more to get out of the city.
You’ll never hear me complain about it, but it was hot. And I had a headwind. And I got lost twice, first at Haacht and then at Aarschot, where my phone’s battery died, leaving me without a map.
Google hugely overestimates my cycling speed: I arrived to Diest at 6pm, sweaty, tired and more proud than ever.
But why was I cycling to Diest on this Friday afternoon to begin with? Why, if not for the love of dance. I was headed to a folk festival named Dafodil.
Until I joined the folk scene, I only knew gigues from J.S. Bach, mazurkas from Chopin (I played some, in fact), and the only valse I knew was Viennese. It makes quite a difference do be dancing them. And dance I did, on that warm and lively night, under the open skies.
As the next day proved, Diest happens to be a lovely, if quiet, old town. So is Aarschot, where I had lunch, though it’s less quiet, as expected from a larger city.
My destination, however, was Betekom, where I danced at a charity dance show organised by my friends Llady May and Saratis, an event as warm, welcoming and fun as anyone could wish for.
Saratis even offered me to stay at her place, even though we’d never met before the show! She and her boyfriend have two dogs – and had a third one over as a guest –, a couple of cats, maybe two? a turtle, a rabbit, and some small chicken. And possible some more I haven’t seen – an amazing household indeed.
Coincidentally, that night was also the 3rd anniversary of my arrival to Belgium. I couldn’t have wished for a better celebration than that hafla with my dancer friends, and that weekend as a whole. When I came back last September, I decided I’d play at being new in town until and unless I felt at home. It took me long, eight months since then, almost three years altogether, but now I am finally truly arrived.
Mayday weekend was one of, if not the best I’ve had in about two and a half years. I also was one of, if not the most active one since then. This means that
I went out to dance salsa on Friday, after declining to go to a class beforehand so that I could have a nap, knowing I’d not be home before 2AM (and indeed I did not);
on Saturday, I visited the Royal Greenhouses. The Royal Greenhouses are open only a few weeks a year, and I was under the distinct impression that one has to reserve an appointment to get in, which I did not manage, probably because this is not really the case. I reserved a place in a guided tour instead, and only realised somewhere around Friday 11PM that 1) the tour starts at 1PM, not at 2:30, and 2) it’s a 4-hour cycling tour around Bruxelles. Of course, I regularly cycle comparable distances, but getting up that much earlier wasn’t welcome; also, cycling thgouth the town and then walking around, at a snail’s pace, in a huge and awfully crowded greenhouse complex for an hour is tiring. On top of that, we started out late, so at 5:30, when I left the group, the tour wasn’t yet finished.
If all that wasn’t enough,
on Sunday, though I had set the alarm as late as I could, counting all I wanted to do, I was fully awake by 8:15; so not only I wen to the market and took the compost to the garden (have I ever mentioned I participate in a community garden?), I also took my seedlings (green peas and courgettes, if you want to know), and by the time the others arrived – we’d agreed to turn the compost –, I almost finished planting and watering them.
I went to a contact impovisation jam in the afternoon, something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time. I’d been going to jams in budapest, but in Bruxelles I somehow didn’t manage (maybe because I was sick half the time?). Anyway, it was so good I resolved to go every Sunday if I can. Of course, typically, I may have to take an exception this week already. I finished off Sunday night at an Oriental dance show. No, I did not perform.
Monday was an easy day: I “only” had some dance practice and visited my friends in Leuven.
Why “almost”, you may ask.
Honestly, I’d not intended to pack my weekend so much, but when I realised I had, I decided not to cancel anything unless I really didn’t feel like going. But every day I paid close attention to get my hours of sleep, to home during the day and have and hour or so to rest, even to take a nap. I made sure that I wouldn’t have any specific programme for the next weekend, so that I can rest.
I was prepared to be tired, not-so-concentrated or less productive at work. Still I hoped, in vain, that that would be it. It’s Friday and I’m writing this from home, on sick leave (lucky I can do that, by the way). When I talk about chronic illness, this is what I’m so upset about. I mean, there are way more serious issues than mine, and if you don’t see me take my meds you probably won’t ever notice, but really, can I not have an active and fun weekend without getting sick?!?
Edited to add: of course, this illness was little more than some annoyance, but annoying it was indeed. Three weeks later, I’m still not back at that energy level — almost, yes, but not quite.
“Are you still single?” – he asked.
I had met him and exchanged numbers at a community event a while ago. We spoke only once since then.
“Does that concern you?” – I answered. I hate this question.
“It does indeed.”
“It concerns me because I’m interested in you.”
“But I’m not interested in you, so no, it does not.”
“Not rude. Honest.”
“You’re so harsh with me.”
“I am, and so what?”
“So what, what do you want me to say?”
“Whatever you wish.”
“Oh well, you too.”
“Then I wish you a nice evening.”
“Don’t you just hang up like that, you have to tell me why!”
“Personal preferences are not to be explained.”
“But you have to explain!”
“No, I don’t. Thans for calling, and have a nice evening. Ciao.”
I count myself lucky, for in my 31 years I’ve only had a handful of these conversations.
I count this one as a victory, for I did hang up and blocked his number without thinking much about it – though it took him less time to text me, only to tell me that I am not nice and that I should go eff myself.
So long as you leave me alone…
Illusions are but a handy tool
I stepped off the plane, thanking the skies for the upteenth time that the sun would shine as I returned. My hand itched for my phone, but I steeled myself not to call – we said our goodbyes as best we could, there was no point in trying to change that. So I pocketed my phone, useless as it was: there wasn’t a single person in the city who knew when I arrived or when I should arrive, much less anyone who cared. (No, my boss does not count.)
I spent my way home trying hard not to cry.
Before I went home, I had convinced myself that no one, not even myseld needed to know I would only be gone for two weeks. Parting ways is much easier if it’s inevitable, even if you have to fool yourself into believing that.
This time, trying to keep myself afloat, I decided I would be as if newly arrived. I’m not at the point of denying my past two years here (I do deny from time to time that I speak English, though), but if anyone asks, I tell them I’m playing at being new in town.
And I play the part well.
I woke up crying
and I felt my dream shatter and fade away within the second.
‘Don’t cry’ they said, ‘you’ll only hurt yourself.’
Don’t I know that. Yet, I could not stop, not for a good time.
‘But why?’ they asked.
‘For I am sad’
‘Because of your surgery??’
‘No, for other reasons’, I answered, trying desperately – and in vain – to cling on to the fragments of my dream,
unsure whether it was the dream itself, or losing it, that made me cry.
Someone please tell me where forgotten dreams go.
Of course, the plan was to go home by midnight. Not that I should be going out on a Sunday at all, but.
I had something that could easily evolve into a full-blown sinusitis, but that would be cut out in two days. I had such a pain in my knee I could hardly walk, but that would fade once I was properly warmed up (only to attack again on the way home). Most dangerous of all, I was heartbroken, and therefore in desperate need of those few minutes of bliss where there is only music and movement and nothing else.
So out I went to find it. The Brussels salsa scene is one of the only things that compensate me for the shitty climate of this place (the other beign the endless strawberry season), but that night started all too slow. By the time someone first asked me to dance, I finished my welcome drink and was halfway through another one, and it only got worse. It had been a long time I’d drank anything more then a glass of wine, but this time I had enough to feel it in my muscles – first in my face, then my arms, my legs; I had enough to almost have a crying fit, though I did convince myself to wait until I got home. I definitely drank enough not to check the time, which went unnoticed as I danced and danced more, forgetting everything but my partners’ lead and the music flowing though me. I stayed until the music changed from salsa/bachata to regueton and latin disco and whatnot, then back again, twice –
and by that time I was so tired I could not follow my own steps, much less someone else’s –
and I was tired enough to lose my filters and show my middle finger to the guy who did not stop at offering me a ride home (“if only I wasn’t by bike”) but told me what else he’d like to do –
and I was more than tired enough not to have that crying fit I wanted, so I guess I reached my goal for the night.
I got home at 2.30AM.
Once upon a time, I used to take long walks in my neighbourhood.
Whatever happened to this habit of mine?
I wrote a lot over the months, but never got to type any of it. I have this lovely hard-cover notebook I carry around all the time, and I even switch to English when I write something in it I intend to transfer later to this blog, but… But.
In May, I spent some days in Porto, city of dreams and saudade – and it was when my return flight landed that I felt, for the first time, at home here. Not, of course, because of any factual change in my relationship with the city, but because it hit me that I’d better, if I’m truly to stay here. And stay I will, for a good couple of years at least.
I visited an amazing number of cities starting with ‘B’ this summer: Budapest, Berlin, Budapest, Bari, Budapest again, Barcelona… then I stopped, these days I go to Lille every month for dance workshops. It’s almost always for dance that I travel, or maybe Toastmasters, as was the case with Porto.
I even went to dance competitions, a great re-start for me, for the one and only time I took part in a solo contest was almost 10 years ago and was a disaster. Third time the charm, they say, or fourth if I count that distant and disastrous first Now I’m faced with the dilemma of what to do with the three not-so-decorative trophies currently residing on my bookshelf without offending anyone, but avoiding at the same time the obligation of regularly dusting them. Don’t get me wrong: I’m truly happy and proud of the achievment, it’s the objects that give me pause.
I still don’t find my balance, try as I might, but I do keep on trying anyway. What else can I do. I try to sleep more, experiment with my eating habits, mostly with cutting sugar completely off my diet.
Changes are brewing. I prefer neat ends, clean cuts, big launches (or even: re-launches) – but clean endings do not exists, changes need to mature, and big (re-)launches need to be heard about beforehand to be interesing, not to mention that the bigger they are, the more spectacularly they crash if they run out of fuel too early, which, in my, case, they tend to do. I’ve been thinking a lot about what to do with this blog, and I’m still not sure. I find it difficult to talk about plans, especially half-formed ones. I’d love to have your opinions, though.
It’s also a very good question why I was about to sit down at a terrace on this sunny Friday afternoon all alone – but alone I was, and convinced I should not deprive myself of the good things of life just because of the lack of good company.
So I sat down, ordered a glass of fruit juice, and started writing. At the next tabe, just in front of me, sat a man wearing a horribly elegant dark suit and a pair of highly reflective sunglasses. I had this feeling he was watching me from behind them, which made me slightly unconfortable. At a certain point, he stood up and took a step toward me.
’Excuse me, could you please keep an eye on my things while I go inside?’
’I’m just going to get another coffee – would you like something too?’
’Maybe another juice? It would be my pleasure.’
Thanks, but no, thanks.’
He went in, came back and sat down. Some minutes later the waitress brought him his coffee, and then put a glass of juice in front of me. I looked up at him, at askance – I thought I had been clear enought about not wanting any more. He shrugged, lit a cigarette and sipped his coffee.
I returned to my writing, leaving the glass of juice intact on the tabe, this time being absoulutely sure of being watched. He sat there in front of me for about another twenty minutes, then took his jacket and walked away.
I get up at 7AM on Saturday, wash, pack some more things, have breakfast and the usual, and close the door at 8.30. The plan was to take my bike to Mons by train so I could bike from the station to Flénu where the festival was held. I decide to take the metro to the train station. At the metro stop I realise my monthly ticket has expired; while I’m renewing it at the machine, I see the metro pass. It goes every 12 minutes. Then, as I put my wallet back to my backpack, its zip, which would open on its own from time to time for a while, decide to give it up once and for all. Of course, I don’t have any other bags I could put on the bike, so I go back home, pack everything into my smallest suitcase, leave the bike and go back to the metro station, resigning myself to missing the 9:28 train. There’s one at 10:05 anyway. A tiny part of me is grateful, for as much as I love biking and the independence of it, biking 6 kms in an unknown town, at night and probably under 0°C might not be the best for me now.
I arrive to Bruxelles-Central without further problems, have a coffee and go to platform 4, which is then changed to platform 6, and wait. At 10:06, I see the train, rather short, which has stopped at the other end of the platform, leave.
I take the next train (10:28), wait another half an hour for my connection at La Louviére – Sud, does not matter but I will remember at this point, I arrive to Mons a bit later than the time I should have arrived to Flenu, walk to the hostel, get a key-card, go up to the second floor only to realise the card does not work, go downstairs, upstairs again, leave the linens on the bed,go back to the station, or, to be precise, to the square next to, which is under reconstruction along with the station, spend a good amount of time on finding where my bus leaves from, realise I have another half an hour until it passes, have a coffee.
About 13:30, I arrive to Flénu, missing almost half of the workshop I signed up to. I try to make the most of what remains, in spite of my bad mood. It does help that the workshop is on live music; it helps even more when the teacher, who has not noticed my late arrival, calls me as one to perform a short improvisation to the other participant – and I’m surprised some would be so surprised at seeing me dance.
The evening went on with an open stage performance that did not go as well as I would have liked, and which – at least my piece – was seen only by about one third of the audience, all the others queuing up for dinner behind the stage;
a dance-fashion show during which I was changing back to normal clothing, but of which I catch one of the models, wearing the dress I had been eyeing before, and who happened to be more or less my size;
a dance show with the wonderful orchestra of Safaa Farid and some truly amazing dancers;
and I concluded it with the most impulsive purchase I’ve ever made in my life.
I arrived home on sunday around 3PM, and, discounting a short break for dinner, I slept until next morning.
for not having written for more than the promised one week.
You know, my best friend was here last week, for a full week, so I truly had better things to do. It may seem perplexing that after a 10-day visit with my best friend I don’t even have some good stories to tell, but we have a rather long tradition of just spending good time together without having anything specific in mind (to the point of accompanying the other running errands), as well as of staying at home with a cup of hot chocolate and world-saving talks instead of going out and burning the town.
Never you mind I don’t have cocoa at home this time.
Or the fact that we did go out, on a Thursday, no less, dancing salsa. It was an altogether decent night out, in any meaning of this word, but it just felt so good. Really, why stay at home all the time in the name of protecting my health when it makes me so depressed?
That being a good lesson, I continued in that spirit this week. I stayed nicely at home the first two days, then went to an absoutely chatartic concert of Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino on Wednesday, watch this video if you can, and to a poetry reading night (of a group I just recently joined) yesterday.
I need to sleep.
Last year, on New Year’s morn, even while walking home from the party I knew I’d be ill. What I did not know was that I’d have practically constant sinusitis for 3 months straight and would have to be operated at the end. This year started in a similar manner, so at the second round I visited a specialist, who happens to be very thorough – aside from the one-week cure for my most evident symptoms and some rest at home he put me under medication for 3 months and regularly orders me back for controls. He even sent me to have a CT examintaion to see if I need yet another operation.
To say I dislike being under medication is quite the understatement. No-one likes is, I guess, but I know some who are indifferent if they need it to get better, people who, for instance, regularly take painkillers for headaches and so on. I’m not: I’m all for natural treatments and will not take a pill unless I don’t have another option. This time, having learnt from last year, I realise I don’t.
But there’s something else, and that’s what makes me write all this, even though sharing these details on the web does make me squirm a bit. I also realise that all the chronic and recurring issues I have are much more closely connected to my lifestyle choices, notably my eating and sleeping habits and stress levels. And there I’m puzzled.
It’s one thing I tend to do too much, which in turn leads me to sleep too little and not care about what I eat. Then, if I force myself to slow down, I become restless, and if I set myself rules about food and sleep and whatnot, I get stressed from it. When stressed, I tend to overeat, mostly sweets – with which I’m surely not alone, but which would be the single most important thing to stop –, as well as stay up late, even when I slow down my projects, just reading things I’ve read a hundred times already. Exhausted, I dope myself with coffee and stress out even more, and it all turns into a rather vicious circle I don’t know where to get hold of. At times it takes me several days, even weeks to get hold of myself, then I restart, shifting my focus one way or another in hopes of better results, which may come, but only in quantity (of time), never in quality. (This is why I compare everything to my life in Genova: that was the only exception, ever.)
I’m not asking for advice, however much it may seem at first. So please don’t give any, I won’t keep them anyway. But I’d love to hear about your own struggles and solutions, if you’d share.
ACTING IN HIS CAPACITY AS APPOINTING AUTHORITY,[…]
HAS DECIDED AS FOLLOWS:
1. Ms Eszter H […], a probationer as from 01/06/2014, is hereby established in grade AD 5, step 1.
2. This decision shall take effect on 01/03/2015.”
another depressive post – you’ve been warned
You may be aware about the fact that I post one of my Hungarian stories (poems, texts, call them as you wish) every Monday and Thursday, and one of the Spanish pieces on Tuesdays and Fridays. The ones posted these days are pieces of a Hungarian-Spanish bilingual series, which is one of hte most important things I’ve ever written. These stories were written long ago: I’m filling this new space up chronologically. Actually, I would truly like if I could produce 2 (or 4) pieces like those per week. As it goes, last week I didn’t even find it in myself to pre-program posting those, much less to write something new, no matter the promise about writing once a week. Even now, I find it difficult to mine anything out of my rather labyrinthic memories that would make an acceptable story.
My mum was here, for almost 24 hours, and for this festive occasion I managed to do something I was completely unable in the previous 10 days, that is, tidy up this flat of mine, and I’m absoutely relieved, for I truly don’t need any outside chaos in addition to the one inside. There will be photos soon, meaning before the end of April. I still have a to-do list that miraculously keeps growing, no matter how many items I cross off; and tonight as I arrived home I was surprised by a postal slip stating I have a pack – I have no idea what it might be and even less of when I can go and pick it up, though it should better be this week if I want to survive the attack of curiosity it provoked.
I arranged for a transporter for today – a man with a small van – to pick up my furniture at one of these second-hand shops and drive them to my place. Everything went smoothly, until he tried to fit the chest of drawers into the elevator, which he tried a couple of times, but couls not. So sure he was that it was an impossible task that he offered to help me carry it up. To the 5th floor.
Luckily, there came the concierge, a tough middle-aged lady, and managed this impossible task in a single try.
So that’s how I ended up sitting on top of a chest of drawers, in a very small elevator, next to a professional, and rather embarrassed, transporter – laughing my head off and wondering why it seems so very normal to me.
Long live surreality.
When I first started a diary, at about 11 years of age, I would meticulously record all the small details of my everyday life. As time passed, I kept on writing, but grew out of this habit, focusing more on the emotional side of things; nevertheless, every now and then, especially after long lapses in writing, I would try to document all in a roughly chronological order. To the best of my knowledge, there is only one person who read that (apart form myself of course), and she never gave an opinion on what kind of reading it was, for which I’m eternally grateful. Then again, even if I still write that way for my own personal purposes, I have this rather strong idea that chronological and factual are essentially boring from the outside.
I’ve been back to Brussels for a week. I cleaned the flat, but failed to put away my things, meaning I’m living out of several suitcases, each of which does not contain the object I’m looking for. I still don’t have dishes: when I had to boil some water I had to resort to the lower part of my mocca, but as of today I have at least a set of plates and mugs I picked up this afternoon, second-hand. I got an iron for free with them.
Having forgotten most my French while at home, I decided to go to the Monday French conversation table. I left work; I went to a nearby place to have some dinner (some soup, more precisely), but it was closed; I went to another, but it was also closed; I managed to have my soup in a third one. Then I caught a bus; I got off at an unknown station to catch my connection and promptly got on the bus going the opposite direction; I got off, got on the correct one, but missed my stop. I was on the verge of going home, but decided against it: it did not seem a good idea to come home to an empty but chaotic flat, where I could not even make a tea, in such a bad mood. That’s all good and well, but once I arrived, I lost track of time and caught it again only around 11pm. Even so, I woke up before 6am the next day. Don’t ask.
Said next day I had dance rehearsal after work; the day after, Wednesday, is may standard of getting-home-late, having a double dance class from 6 to 8 and then another one until 10pm. I got Thursday an Friday off, so that I could get some furniture and settle in. I tried.
On Thursday, I ventured out to this second-hand furniture shop just round the corner. I spent about 2 hours in there, but didn’t find anything interesting apart from a shelf I’ve bought since then but still have no idea how I’ll manage to transport it home. After that, I went to get some lunch – some soup again, and you’ll realise it’s important, for by the time I finished with that, I was feeling so bad I decided to come back home, then slept through the whole afternoon. On Friday, I wen’t to see the doctor.
I’m somewhat better now, but I still don’t know how I’ll manage to both get better and at least the settling-in part of my rather intimidating list.
They say if you have too much of something, you become less and less sensitive of it. I guess I’ve long past developed that kind of tolerance to increased life rhythms.
Sorry, folks. I was home, and loved every minute of it. Or at least that’s what I want to remember, even if it is most evidently an exaggeration. In any case, my apologies to all of you who read this blog / would have liked to hear of me over the holidays, but did not.
But now! I’m back. To beautiful cloudy Bruxelles, and, eventually, to blogging. A notorious non-maker of resolutions, I nevertheless promise that I will try my best to write one post per week.
I arrived to my new home at about 5pm, with a huge and horribly heavy suitcase (and another, not so huge and heavy one to complement it), switched the heating on, then ventured out to get some food for the upcoming days. I also got a bucket for the cleaning I will have to do at some point, as well as a nice comfy two-step ladder I also felt the need to have in my flat. It will also act as a chair until I get one of those (there’s an Acting Chair to all my fellow language freaks).
I found then something to call pyjamas for the next couple of days. And now, I will sleep.
Though only about six months and a half passed since I am here and f my nine-month probation, for some reason no one quite understands (not even my immediate boss) we had an end-of-probation evaluation meeting today (with the boss mentioned).
Then I met my new landlady and signed a 3-year lease contract for an apartment – my new home from next weekend, if you wish.
I need sleep so badly – even though, and that’s something I forgot to tell you, the monster is gone* – that I decided against salsa-dancing tonight.
* before you jump to mistaken conclusions, it was her owner… well, anyway, her human who took her, and to nowhere else than Corsica, from where she is originally from.
My blog is too depressive, I’m told. Some even stopped reading it because of that. Now, I’m horribly offended – but I also have to admit that I do end up strangely melancholic whenever I grab the keyboard, even when I want to write about something happy. My only remedy is sticking to the facts, which usually don’t find interesting enough in and for itself, thoug I’m probably mistaken in this.
So, here you go.
My mum arrived on Monday – along with Winter himself –, equipped with an unpleasant cold and a good amount of tiredness, which translated into not wanting to do tourism or any other fancy programmes but simply being, resting and spending time with me. So we had three days of the most decadent tranquilité possible. This actually means we had good unhurried breakfasts, ate out every day and that the most demanding thing we did was had walking around the Christmas market looking for mulled wine. I’d been missing her – missing home – terribly.
Then she went home, and – well, saying hell broke loose would be the overstatement of the year, but still. Actually, it started earlier. I went to see a flat just before she arrived; I made a formal offer to rent it, which included sending some pretty sensitive personal data (the ways of Belgian real-estate agencies), only to learn two days later, when I had to call them, that the flat was already rented to another person. My mum left on Thursday morning; I had a visit to a flat at lunchtime the same day. The agent wrote me he’d be 10 minutes late, which turned out to be half an hour, which is only a bit painful at 0°C and with time lost from working hours. It wasn’t the best place, but desperate I was I almost decided to rent it. In the evening I had another appointment, waited another half an hour, after which I called the agent who told me in her most non-apologetic voice that that flat was already taken. I say, alright, but I had an appointment, I’ve been waiting for half an hour already. She says, the first visitor took the flat. I say, that’s all good and well, but she could have told me something. She says, but they get so many messages and anyway the office closes at 6:30pm. At that point I was shouting her head off in my almost-nonexistent French. You can imagine.
I wanted to go to sleep early, but my neighbour decided that precise night that they want to listen to some shitty music on max volume at 10pm. Given that theirs is another staircase, I decided not to go down three stairs to ring them up – but after about 20 minutes when the music was still on, I started hitting the radiator on the common wall furiously. (I know it’s weird, but it also happens to be the only way I can make some noise that may be heard on the other side.) My hand still hurts. Somehow I managed to fall asleep, only to wake up at 4am feeling distinctly sick and feverish. I got some water and my thermometer, but of course I fell asleep somewhere around the fourth minute, so at a certain point I saved the thermometer, never learning if I had a temperature or not.
I honestly wasn’t the most useful on Friday, but I pulled through, organising a visit to one flat for the evening ang four others for today. Then I went out salsa-dancing, and got home at 4am.
I woke up today to a sunny autumnish morning; the air was crisp and smelled of mulled wine (even if there wasn’t any in sight). Today, I walked about 7 hours, saw 3 apartments (the 4th visit was cancelled), did a good part of my Christmas shopping, made a decision, made a deal with the current tenant to buy the bed and the wardrobe that’s currently in the flat, and I even managed to get home and call my family with the news.
I even got the contract proposal. It’s in French, of course. I refuse to read it tonight.
Shall I write about my travels?
Shall I write about facts? be chronological? Or shall I write my impressions, de-contextualised, and ignore the fact that it will be utterly incomprehensible without further explanations?
Shall I write about these things at all, or will you just hate me anyway for my life here (and especially for the fact I am not all euphoric in it)?
I can't seem to master the art of uncomplicated happiness.
– so I'll stick to the facts, or something of the like, and at that I'll write how I went to Bari.
It all began with the notion that with this climate here I'd better go somewhere South in November, so I decided to go to Cyprus. Then I saw the air fares, and decided to go elsewhere, to look for a nice dance festival. And I found one in Cyprus, and I also found out that if I don't insist on travelling on weekend, I may get an acceptable fare, but then my friend Mari told me she was going to a festival in Bari, where some truly awesome teachers would teach, and where I have another couple of friends living, not to mention which is a place much easier to travel to. So I went. She could not, in the end.
The old town of Bari is as heart-brakingly beautiful as only the port cities of the Mediterranean can be, and seems to have the exact same horrible living conditions. There is also some charm in seeing people in boots and winter coats in 23 degrees and sunshine.
Of course, I spent most my time inside the Mazagat festival, taking 3 dance workshops a day. I swear by the end of each day not only I couldn't lift my feet, but I didn't even know where to find them. I learnt a lot, though, or so I hope. I see thankful and enthusiastic comments on fb and can't bring myself to write one of those, and I wonder why: if it's a difference in personality, if it's because I felt so clumsy at the workshops among so many good dancers (and beautiful women), or simply I was too tired by the end to be enthusiastic about anything. It had been a very long time sine I danced as much and as intensely.
The cool thing about coming back from holidays on Tuesday is that you have a short working week. The not-so-cool thing about spending you holidays in an otherwise fantastic, but so intense festival (especially if you come back on Tuesday) is that you stand no chance at all of getting even near-enough sleep. So here I am now, back to work, back to my flat-hunt – I should get going in a few minutes to see another flat, by the way.
Shall I write (more) about travels? or any of these micro-stories?
Last night, just as I was about to go out to the French conversation table where I go every second Monday, I realised I had left my wallet in the office. I wasn’t overly happy, but it was not the first time, so I didn’ worry too much, either.
This morning I realised that though my wallet was indeed in my office, my MOBIB card (the one for public transport) and my credit card wasn’t. Nor in the canteen where I last used the latter, nor at the reception / lost and found has anyone seen or heard about it. So in my lunch break, just after having visited an apartment – I will have to move out at the end of the year – I came home to look for them again, to no avail. So I went to the bank, which turned out to be unnecessary, as the only way to block a card is by phone, so that I did.
If this wasn’t enough, I had some problems with a rather problematic tooth of mine – that is, I lost the filling from it, so after work 1) I went to one of those few metro stations where you can get the card and got a new one (the good thing about the electronic system is that it has the same validity as the lost one), 2) went to see another apartment, 3) went to the emergency dentist to get my tooth taken care of (may I mention that the dentist did not speak practically any English).
This was my most efficient and productive day in the last two weeks.*
*yes, I did finish my translations for today, too.
Time change means days that are (relatively) warm and sunny, but end somewhat before 6pm in evenings that’s both warm and crisp, and somehow exotic and in-between for me.
It’s been just slightly more than 5 months that I’m here. That’s more than what I spent in Genova alltogether – and I cannot but compare, amongst other things because that time (more precisely the second half of it) was so far the best. There I had a true Mediterranean summer, here spring turned almost immediately into autumn. Time flows differently: in 5 months in Genova so much more happened, as normal when staying for a determined time, and in summer. I remember lightness, warmth and a feeling of free fall – here I am grounded, colder, and things slow as growing plants.
Today I miss my friends. The ones at home, and the ones in Genova and Barcelona, friendships not as old and deep, but no less meaningful and much more intense. And while I know that finding friends like the ones I have at home takes a very long time if not forever, I wonder if not finding people like I found in my ports is due to the difference in place, to sheer luck, or if I have changed so much since then.
Time accumulates behind me and untold stories, wishing to be written, follow me relentlessly, to the very shore of the sea. As does inquietude – and only the sound of waves and the smell of salt did alleviate me for those few years. And now that I sit down to grant these stories what they so incessantly demanded, words evaporate and phrases melt.
August came and flew away, with but a few days to see the open skies. I had my sister and her son visiting me for a full week, so long yet so short; we visited the local fun fair, ate an indecent amount of fries and waffles and went to sleep at some hours slightly too late for my four-year-old nephew. We visited Brugge and the seaside – the latter by bike – and managed to ride across the Zwin national reserve (with no public lighting, of course) at around 10pm, spending the first half of the trip fearing the things lurking in the dark and the second half fearing my nephew would fall asleep and off the bike as well as of losing our way. On the way back, next day, it was raining cats and dogs, so of the actual natural reserve – which would have been the goal of our trip – we didn’t see much. We did see Brugge the canals and the seaside though, and it’s quite very enjoyable to cycle on the lowlands in any case.
I went home for a very brief but as dense weekend to see one of my oldest friends getting married, and meet everyone I could in about 60 hours I spent in the country.
Hardly back in Brussels, having slept about 4 hours and taken the 6AM plane as well as being late, I ran into this strange guy in a fast food where I wanted to get something for lunch. He approached me saying he got his wallet stolen and asked me to offer him a meal. I did; but I also gave him my phone number, which turned out to be a mistake. He asked me whether he could crash at my place, which I didn’t really feel like, but I promised I’d try to help (hence the number thing). Witout being to find anyone to host him and after some insistance, I told him to meet me at a certain place and hour and that I might host him for the night, though there was something amiss, so I didn’t go to the meeting point alone. As he arrived, I started to ask hime questions, so as to understand what had happened to him.
’You know, I’m just travelling low-cost, I’m liable to ask anyone to host me.’
’Didn’t you tell me you wallet was lost?’
’Well, yeah, that too.’
As if this wasn’t enough, when Luís spoke up, he his answer was something like ’I don’t know who the f*ck you are and what the f*ck you have to say.’ (Says the one who failed to greet him, though evidently he was with me, let alone introduce himself.) Then he attacked, in an absurd reversely-possessive way, telling Luís ’you don’t own her, you don’t know anyone in life’, and would have gone on if I hadn’t told him to stop, that he was there because I asked him to, and that I was making a decision whether to trust him and he wasn’t helping the case. His answer was ’I understand your boyfriend is unhappy about you having a stranger sleeping at your place.’ Honestly. As if that was the actual risk, really. I asked him if I could help in any other way, then gave him some money as he requested. He called me three times since, acting as if nothing had happened. I blocked his number after the last one.
Then, I went to Spain. To Andalucía, to be precise – and that will go to a separate post. As it goes, my notebook was full, so I did not bring it with me there; and I had so much to think and write about that one of the first things to do was to buy a notebook. Of course, as my friend Mari arrived and whe plunged into discovering the city of Sevilla, the most I got to jot down were ideas condensed into 4-5 words.
There was one, titled ’the Beginning – no2’. And that was because just before going there I felt something started here in Bruxelles, a movement, a true beginning (again, as so many times). But I cannot for anything recall the words I had for it, the words that would have described it properly. By the time I came back, the feeling faded, too, as it was only to be expected. But things have started: things like dance courses and suchlike that do make me feel more present here. Things like the fact that I had my office rearranged and brought about 10 plants from one that is currently unused – making it quite homely so.
I even had my father visit for a couple of days.
Life is cool.
I have found 4 (four) lost cellphones so far – I gave them all back, of course. I found the keys of a Vespa once – I gave that one back, too. I found another motorbike key in a mall, and gave it to the lost and found service, not having any better idea. I even found a car key when walking with my best friend (or maybe she found that? anyway), and we left it there, for it was in the middle of the street – I still think we could have done better.
Now, I found a notebook. (and a pen in its spiral binding.) On the street. Having lost one of this kind myself, I would rather give this one back to its owner – but so far I have’t found anything that could indicate the identity of him or her. And I’m insanely curious. And…
It is written in English.
This was my weekly challenge, the task I set myself last Sunday – under the after-effects of Gentse feesten as I was: to have a balanced week. This may sound either easy or not very clear, so here are the approximate rules:
- Eat well. That’s actually two rules: a) don’t eat crap, b) don’t eat anything in a way only crap is worth eating.
- Sleep decent hours (7 per day at least)
- Limit screen time: don’t waste life on the web.
- Be productive: tick off one thing from the list per day.
- Do something important and/or interesting every day.
The results? well…. Sunday, though otherwise not overly enjoyable, was perfect in terms of the above; Monday was cool. The cracks started to appear on Tuesday in the form of some chocolate or so; on Wednesday I overslept and had to shorten my morning routine of yoga&dance, and after work did just about nothing but surf on the net. Thursday I overslept even more (will not mention what I ate), only did the yoga part, but also had to do some other things in the morning, so I was quite very late from work, but went to a French conversation event in the evening. On Friday I could hardly get up at all, but went out with my colleagues to see a film. And to eat fish&chips (it was good, so no comment).
All in all I couldn’t quite keep to my rules. I did sleep decent hours, but honestly, I feel that if I am more rested that’s more due to the weekend’s two-figure sleep than whatever I tried to do during the week. I ate a lot of things I should rather have avoided; it’s Sunday and I still have a good couple of items on my list. I went out 3 nights out of 5, and the remaining two I was restless as hell.
I felt distant, muted and not quite myself.
If my standard over-active and chaotic lifestyle regularly gets me sick, and this calmer and more balaced one feels forced and makes me restless, then what am I to do?
A full week (and more) in between somewhat makes the impact fade, but it was (to be perfectly grammatically correct, they were) in any case worth a post. In the meantime, I also started an “I am fed up” post, but was way too fed up to finish it, so you escaped, if hardly.
Imagine Sziget Festival lasted 10 days. Imagine it was in the castle district. Imagine you arrived for the last two days
– and you’ll have an impression of the thing.
The Gentse Feesten has a very long tradition – some 170 years or so –, and I’m told it was initiated when the factory owners and suchlike got fed up with their workers showing up late, and often drunk, for work, or not showing up at all, and made a pact of giving them 10 days off in exchange for better work ethic during the rest of the year. This may or may not be true, and what’s sure is that it has changed a lot over the years; in any case, now it is a number of simultaneous festivals throughout the city centre, where, to quote the relevant wikipedia article, “Public drunkenness is not entirely unseen”.
Having finished my French course on Friday, exam results and whatnot, I took a train to Ghent to see the city and enjoy the festival, not knowing that the two are very difficult, if not impossible to do at the same time. My hostel roommates immediately took care of me, taking me with them to some rockabilly concert, and also giving me drink after drink, and at a certain point, when I was already quite tipsy – enough to feel lost – I lost them. I wandered around a bit; decided something good had to happen before I called it a night; bought a chocolate waffel, which is kind of the same thing, and headed home. (I’d have never though that there are Brussels waffles and Liége waffles and they are different – but there are, and they are.) It was only 3AM when I got home; m roommates arrived around 7AM.
And probably most others did, too, for when I left the hostel at noon the next day, the whole city was dead. And smelled exactly as a festival does after 8 days. Now, I have to admit I hadn’t quite done my homework beforehand, so I only had a vague idea as to what to see and where to go. So what I did was – walking. In the centre and around, along and accross the canals, and of course to the cathedral, where I spent around an hour only at the van Eyck polyptych. After that, I’m not quite sure when, I switched to autopilot mode and ended up walking altoghether about 9 hours in the city, pausing only for some lunch (at 4PM) and a coffee somewhat later. I can’t say I actually saw much, to be honest, in the state I was in, though probably when I go back (soon enough, probably: it’s an amazing place) I will recognise most of it.
The original plan was to bike back to Bruxelles on Sunday, leaving Ghent early in the afternoon, but after another late night and the frustration for Saturday I decided against it. I got some recommendations about what to see – two street theatre pieces. I missed the first because I got stuck at a concert, which was by the way quite good; I missed the second becaouse as I was going to the place the sky fell down – I, waited for a while under the gateway in a huge crowd, then, when the rain abated somewhat, decided to go home rather than sit though a one-hour performance, soaking wet as I was. That I did, then took the train back home.
On Tuesday I got home at around 6PM, lay down a bit to rest, woke up at 9:30 to feed the cat, then went back to sleep.
I guess I’ll have to return to Ghent soon.
It’s around 2AM; going home I notice a small grouping of people just in front of my door. The couple, I guess, is Colombian; the three bikers, two guys and a girl, locals.
I step closer. It’s the Belgian girl who offers explanation, though a slightly confused and confusing one. She hasn’t seen, she says, but it seems he has just slapped his wife. I ask him what happened: he insists she had hit him first. She speaks English and tries to calm things down: she says it’s alright, that “shit happens”,that this has never happened before – I also catch her telling him, in spanish, that her mouth is bleeding. He keeps insulting them, us, interrupting constantly when I try to speak with her; she then tells him to go home, and he does.
In the meantime, one of the bikers has called the police, then started off following him by bike. We stay, for a bit; the Belgian girl tells her, repeatedly, not to ever believe anyone has the right to do this. I tell her I live just there and that she can ring if needed. She smiles through her tears and says she appreciates. We share a hug, then she walks away – home. The Belgian girl calls her friend, tells her how proud she is of him; he tells her the police have arrived, or, in any case, there was a police car, and they are now talking to them.
The two remaining bikers go after their firend, fading into the night.
I stand in front of my door, looking for my keys, and cry.
It was one of those moments, gray and tense and difficult, when I would have even welcomed the rain. Cycling through the city I stopped at a small shop and not finding what I was looking for, asked the shopkeeper, a lady visibly of African origin, if she spoke English. She did, and did so with a surprisingly clear and non-French accent.
It turned out she is from Madagascar, and at my request she would even tell me how to say “life is beautiful” – that is my standard for “say something” or “teach me something” lately – in her language, which I promptly forgot. But she also explained that in Malagasy (yes, that’s the national language of Madagascar, and she wore the exact same face when I asked about it as I do when people ask about what language we speak “over there”)
– that in Malagasy one would never really say that, for it’s a much more poetic and philosophical language, and what they would say in the context of life would translate to
“Life is like aloe and honey”.
I really have to be a linguist.
On Monday the 21st of July, it was the national day of Belgium. As I learnt from prof. Wiki,
“it commemorates an event on 21 July 1831 in which Leopold of Saxe-Cobourg swore allegiance to the new Belgian constitution, thus becoming the first King of the Belgians.”
I arrived quite late to the festivities, so luckily I missed the military parade. I also happened to miss any and all folkloric programmes that were advertised, while of the military and other related bodies I had more than enough, what with their endless stands and exhibits (tanks and suchlike, you know…)
I had some fries, went to see a concert, went back to see the fireworks – I must admit they were quite nice, even under the rain (yes, it was raining, that is part of the National Day tradition, or so I’m told). Then did some rounds to get back to the parc where I had left my bike and went home, soaked.
Now, I might lack the descriptive power when it comes to facts, but I do love other people’s holidays. As a foreigner, especially here where I don’t even speak the language(s), I see nothing of the political conflicts underneath, even if I know they exist.
What I see there is something festive, it’s people wishing each other a “nice holiday”, it’s people who belong, together. Even here.
I checked their names out when I arrived. They are Italian.
And though I thought several times to smiply knock on their door, I somehow never did it – and it took two months (or almost: I can’t believe it’s been that long already) to run into each other in the staircase. Instead of chatting for half an hour just in front of the door, as would be typical at home, PierGiacomo invited me in, which of course meant chatting an hour and a half). We went out for a beer in the evening, PG, Michela, their friends and me. I have to say StGilles is none too close to our place, at least if you go on foot, so by the time we were back we were all exhausted – and that’s when it turned out they had closed the door without taking the keys, effectively locking themselves out of their flat, so I had two guests for the night. Isn’t it the most normal of things, really.
From the Atomium I came home by metro, for I met some friends who live nearby. This was a round trip.
A flamenco recital of my friend Yves, home-made paella, nice company, and a true summer night (it was hot like hell, honestly, so I enjoyed it a lot). Life is good.
It was held at the place of a friend of Yves’, so the address on the map above is obviously not accurate – nevermind though that when I opened the map from the fb event’s coordinates, bloody gmaps gave me an incorrect one, too, so I knocked and rang several times at the wrong door. Luckily, they were not at home.
It took me way more than 33 minutes, of course.
And if you wonder what this has to do with music: it was the Brosella folk&jazz festival, just last weekend (folk/wold music dayfor me 🙂 ).
... meet bibiche, my flatmate, the monster (one-headed, as opposed to the many-headed one) who wakes me up at 06.10 the latest on most days – on some it's 05.13 –, who almost literally shouts my head off when I arrive home to feed her.
Nothing special – she's a cat, after all.
As for the other pictures, of the flat itself,please note that this level of cleanliness is occasional at best.
*by the way, the rain stopped some days ago, so I'm about myself again.
A too-many-times repeated truth: good times do not necessarily make good tales.
Last weekend I went sailing on the lake with my friends. Does it not explain all? The sun, the swimming, the complete calm so far from the city, as well as the fun and the good company? I mean, I flew home for those two days.
Which were three; and, beyond the sailing, were enough to go home, enjoy the nightbus service in Budapest - including the show offered by fellow passengers -, arrive as if I'd been gone but for two days, get used to 35 degrees (now that wasn't any difficult), go to the dodgem with my sister and four-year-old nephew, greet my grandma on her 85th birthday, help harvesting the sour cherries (there weren't any raspberrie, thoughs) and get confused because going directly to the airport from my grandma's house in Agárd really does not feel right.
I lost count of the number of times when I let slip that "on Monday I'm going home", so –
I'm home now, still ground-sick*, and – what a surprise – it's raining. Cats and dogs, or almost.
Bruxelles, how I hate thee.
* that's the inverse of seasickness: feeling as the ground waves under your feet after you get off the boat.
A relocation; a wholly new life – so scarily natural and easy as if I did it every other day. A life fully claimed, yet at times seeming to be someone else’s. A life, so very dense, so intense; a life where nothing is quite urgent or important enough not to go out to the Square or the garden if the sun comes out.
So many names, faces, stories and attitudes to remember (or discard, and that is the harder), and as yet none I could claim I know.
The feeling of inviting your mom to eat out. (a first ever.)
The decadence of sharing half-a-dozen oysters and having a glass of wine with them at the market, at noon
– and, as I had the first sip of wine, over the seafood and under the sun, the sea, far as it may be, hit me with its full force, so much it took my breath away for a moment; and I could almost, almost see it, and hear the waves, and breathe the air —
Ever since I first saw that vendor, the forst time I went to the market, I thought my mom is just the person who would fully enjoy such a moment of luxury. She did. We both did, immensely.
She only came for two days, anyway.
A random stranger left some leaflets about seasonal fruits and local producers in my bike’s basket.
The very same topics about which I asked that random stranger I mentioned earlier.
It all happened practically at light-speed, around this so-called ’Medieval Market’ on a certain weekend. A weekend when it was summer in Brussels – I mean, you could almost believe it, until and unless you went under a shadow.
I went down to the community garden next door, helped plant some tomatoes, received a basil to plant, harvested some red currants, and got the number of a certain architect who might just help me to make a crate so I can plant too.
I went to the park, and happened upon three people slacklining. I stopped.
’want to try?’
now what can one say to that? I did, after some hesitation. I went to this ’Medieval Market’ with them, met their friends (some local, some not quite), met some musicians* and other random people and generally had a great time both nights of the weekend.
Most of those people I haven’t seen since; some I have. With some others I have exchanged contacts, so I may, yet. (the next time I wonder if I should go to a festival or some such alone, please remind me of this.)
I also went to the concert of Yves and Anne, musician friends of mine – after which Anne casually asked me, ’would you like to come with us to a party at a friends’ place?’ I would; I did. On top of it, it was a thematic party where everyone could bring some kind of performance – guess what. The company? some musicians, a singer, a good couple of graphic artists, a performer of the completely mad type (but of the entertaining ones), and others…. until around 3AM. (the story when Yves and I tried to put my bike into his car’s back so that he could drive me home – having lost my way three times while going, I had no idea how to get home -, spent a good quarter of an hour as I messed up taking the front wheel off, then had to put it back when after another 20 minutes we realised it was absolutely impossible that it should fit in —- well, that could very well be another story, if it was not part of this one.)
Oh by the way, I still not speak any French.
*that was: “now is that an oud in your hand????”
I arrived late in the afternoon, after a bit of traffic and communication mishaps. It was raining. I went out to get some dinner; arriving to “the Square” (it’s called place Jourdan, but….), I saw this rasta guy sitting there, selling hand-made jewellery, and working on some new piece. I stepped closer, crossing an invisible line, which made him look up and greet me. ‘Hola’, he said. ‘Hola’, I responded. Within a few minutes I was sitting next to him on the ground, chatting. He’s Mexican, visiting a friend (from Equador, where else), who lives just in the squat in front of my place. The very same evening they had me over for dinner.
Domesticating another person’s plastic bag collection is something I really could have lived without. Nevertheless, cleaning a place is still of the best ways to take possession of it.
Along with the flat, I also rent a cat. She wakes me up at around 6AM every morning. She also sleeps in my bed, which is one thing, but the first night she slept on me, which meant that every time I moved I woke up because the cat just rolled off me.
The first week at work can be quite tiring, even if you don’t actually work that much.
I met a random stranger with whom I had a nice long chat and then did not exchange contacts. I’m afraid it was a mistake.
It is scary how normal and routine-like a full relocation can be.