Monthly Archives: February 2011

T – the manual


I have a very nice girlfriend. She’s pretty, is a master in relativity (which is a good quality to have in a partner when you are a drama queen yourself) and provides good service where good service is due (trying to keep this child-safe to American standards…). So with it being Valentine’s day today, I can imagine there’s a ton of people out there that want to take her out on a date. This post is directed to these people. Because – however cute and smart and funny she may be, she also comes with a manual. A quite substantial manual. And just so aspiring lovers know what they’re getting themselves into, I provide them here with some excerpts.

§2.1 Do not surprise

A jack-in-the-box

Not a good idea. (Image via Wikipedia)

§2.1.1. No surprise parties of any kind or size shall be organized in the subject’s honor, nor shall you surprise her with a night out and/or tickets for her favorite band (see also §4.1. Do not plan anything without the subject’s consent). Jokes about these subjects shall not be tolerated either, and will result in a very edgy, uncomfortable, and nervous subject for several days.
§2.1.2. Do not kiss the subject while she is under the shower washing her hair with her eyes closed – you will get smacked in the face. Do not let the cat jump on the subjects’s lap unless she’s seen him coming – he will get smacked in his face. Do not wake the subject with a romantic wake-up kiss on the mouth on a lazy Sunday morning – you will … you get the picture.



Too early. (Image by brookeduckart via Flickr)

§4.2 Do not plan ahead
§4.2.1. No arrangements should be made for dates more than 2 weeks ahead since it is impossible to tell whether these plans will fit with the mental and physical condition of the subject at that particular time point. Failure to do so will require you to take full responsibility for the poor planning of the event.

§5.1 Do not interfere with decision making
§5.1.1. Decision making for purchasing material goods can take anytime from 1-2 weeks for basic needs such as the purchase of a t-shirt or a pair of jeans, to up to a year for more important purchases such as a photo camera. Interference with any of these decisions will only be tolerated if and only if sufficient credentials on the referred purchase domain (PhD or higher) can be presented.
§5.1.2. Life-influencing choices, including moving in together, having children and/or getting married do not have a maximum decision time-limit. Any attempt to help in the decision making process will result in longer decision times.
§5.1.3. After receiving permission to assist in the decision making, limit yourself to rational arguments and quantifiable parameters. The use of tables, graphs, and charts is encouraged. Appropriate references are highly appreciated.

Not Ts philosophy.

§5.2.3 Decisions you make yourself are better, therefore under no circumstances the subject shall involve in or help with decision making on behalf of other people.

I will briefly mention §7.3 (do not talk when watching a movie), §8.2 (always sleep on the subject’s left side) and §10.2 (countries where spiders roam freely are excluded as a travel destination). In case you still plan on taking her on a Valentine’s dinner: I hope you invited her no more than 2 weeks and no less than 2 days ago, that she knows where you are going, and that there is only 1 veggie choice on the menu.

Totally out of context. But incredibly funny.

The Years of Me (2)


Continuing from my previous post, when I had finally managed to become un-unsociable and had jumped into a long-distance relationship with a Portuguese guy…

2006: The Year of Lite
I started my PhD – a dream come true, with a very dedicated professor as my promotor, and the thing with Lite got serious. A dream job and the cutest, sweetest guy in the universe who loved me: life was good. We travelled around a good deal, Lite and I, and after his Erasmus-year in Italy, Lite even moved to Belgium for an internship. I learned an awful lot of him: self-confidence, perspective, laid-back’ness. If I gotten the concept right, this is my guy-that-got-away.

2007: The Worst Year of my Life
Early in the year, on Lite’s birthday, we broke up. If we had lived closer together (he had ended the internship by then), we might have been able to work things out, but there was no time, no place. I broke. Had I suffered from losing Viking, it was nothing like this. To make matters worse, I had moved 8 kms out of the city, with no car, making it harder to meet my friends, and Loetse got a girlfriend, putting an end to our close friendship (which had continued during my relationship with Lite. it is almost embarrassing when people ask you how long you’ve been together, and you have to answer you’re actually with someone else). I almost lost my job. And I fell back in my old habit of shutting people out.

2008: The Best Year of my Life
I have my friends to thank for not letting me shut them out. I had too much free time on my hands, and started to do stuff. I still had my Portuguese classes, but I added: belly dancing. Teacher course. Ballroom dancing. Accordion classes. Lindy Hop. I went on holidays: skiing with my dad, Istanbul with the belly dancers, Seville, Paris, Barcelona, Mexico. I had one free night a week and I didn’t save a penny, but I had the time of my life. I decided I wouldn’t let my life depend on meeting someone, and bought a house in the city. And to top it all of, Tink came in the picture.

2009: The Year of Tinkel (and Sports Injuries)
While I had been familiar with the whole bisexual thing for years, it was new to T. And her friends. And her family. Ironically, it was my mum that shut the door on me/us. It took severed knee ligaments (bloody snowboarders…) to bring out enough mother feelings to start the acceptance process (still in progress). Around the same time, T had surgery in a final attempt to get rid of the shoulder injury she had been struggling with for a few months then (she was an avid badminton player. national level avid.). So with one good pair of legs and one good pair of arms we complemented each other perfectly.

2010: The Year of Change and Babies. And Hormones.
It was a very fertile year: no less than 7 babies were added to my circle of friends (no twins, btw). It set off my biological clock and freaked me out. But I had no time for that: I needed to finish my PhD, find a new job. There was an opportunity in Sweden, but although I had been dreaming of spending some more time abroad I was reluctant to go – I wanted T to move in and go to the bank with me so we could find us some sperm cells. Unfortunately for me, T didn’t want either of those: I had found the one girl with bigger bonding issues than your average guy. The decision was made: I was taking the job abroad.

2011: The Year of the Rabbit
Apparently. I am guessing for me this will be the Year of Weddings (it’s Belgium… we don’t tend follow the usual order of things). So far, 6 weddings are marked on the 2011 calendar (plus 2 babies), and it’s only February … . And it will be a Swedish Year, obviously, which I’ve decided to enjoy fully, letting my return depend on whether T is ready to move in with me or not. It’s a crossroad year, and I feel the decisions I will make this year will have a big impact on the rest of my life. So here’s to hoping I make the right ones. And here’s to enjoying “now” without worries.

The Years of Me (1)


Happy New Year!

I just love saying that ;).

While we celebrated the Gregorian New Year some while back, now it’s the turn for the Chinese – and as a true cosmopolitan, I, of course, will celebrate with them. Tomorrow we move from a Tiger Year (yey!) to a Rabbit Year (eh… yey?). Not just any Rabbit though – a Metal Rabbit. I tend to like them fluffier, but hey, Chinese know best. But it got me wondering how my past life would look like if I would describe them in years. The Year of the PhD? The Year of the Cold Feet?

Now, as an introductory note, you should realize I was not an average teenager. I had no friends. I barely talked to my classmates, unless it was school related. I was an avid reader: I read in between classes, before classes, after classes, on the bus and at home. I spent my lunch breaks at the library, reading. I didn’t study – I just attended classes, did what I had to do, passed. I didn’t go out. My mum dragged me to musical classes, which I enjoyed, but I still wouldn’t open my mouth unless on stage. “Unsociable” was the word most people used to describe me.
But – and this is important – I was happy. I wasn’t bullied, I wasn’t excluded: my teachers, classmates, … reached out, tried to involve me – it was me who decided to place myself outside the group (though largely unconsciously). That’s the person who we start with in 1999.

1999: The Year of First Love
I was 17 and we met at summer camp, where we both worked. She blew me off my feet. I wasn’t in love, obviously, I just wanted to be with her. Talk. Be. I wasn’t in love. It took me almost 2 years to realize that, actually, I was. By then I had of course long blown my chances, lol, but we managed to stay close, and I’m guessing she might now me better than anyone, having witnessed (and helped me) change from who I was to who I am.

2000: The Year of University
Oh what a change! Classes in the morning from 8h30 till 12h45, practicals in the afternoon from 2pm till you were done, which could be any time between 5 and 8. It was exhausting. And I had to study. I had never studied before – prepared for tests, yes, but studied? No. Never. I passed half of the subjects (ironically, these were math and philosophy. I was in biology.). I failed the other half. It would be a summer full of physics and chemistry. But – I managed to make friends. They didn’t know they weren’t supposed to come close, to talk to me, and I discovered I actually enjoyed their company.

2001: The Year of Meeting Guys
While I built up some friendships, they were all with girls. Guys were … noisy. Annoying. Impatient. And noisy. I had always been in girls-only schools, and I had never had to deal with boys. At university, I had to work with them. I generally just shut up when they were around (think Raj from The Big Bang Theory, but the other way around), but it was impossible to keep this up. And as it turned out, after some getting used to, they were ok. Still noisy, but ok. Some were even pretty cute. And sweet. And nice to hug. VERY nice to hug (hey, 2 years ago I was “unsociable”, let’s take it slow, shall we?).

2002: The Year of the Bachelor
A year later than planned, I got my Bachelors in Biology, and decided to continue in Biotechnology. It was a big thing for me – I had managed to establish some friendships, against all expectations, almost coincidentally. Now I had to leave them behind (including my best friend who I obviously had a crush on) and get into a new group where, for the first time, I wánted to find friends. I wasn’t sure if I could do that in an intentional way. But lo and behold (been dying to use that expression!) – I did.

2003: The Year of the Firsts
First kiss and first boyfriend, that is. Both events took place in the same weekend, although with different boys. Hey, my crush wasn’t moving, somebody had to do something – but I didn’t know how to kiss. So I let the unthinkable happen, and allowed a guy to hit on me and kiss me. It was an unfortunate complication the guy, Pjetr, was actually in a relationship, but well, sacrifices have to be made for love, and I believe she never found out. I immediately put my new-gained knowledge into practice, and got myself a Viking boyfriend. He decided he was in love with another girl 3 moths later and broke my heart, but at least now I got the hang of the whole kissing thing.

2004: The Year of the Room, the Rebound(s), and the Second Boyfriend.
Finally my parents let me move on rooms in the city, so I no longer had to suffer hour-long busrides from home to school and back. Ah, the freedom… still grieving over the loss of my Viking, I started to fool around with Pjetr, my first-kiss guy (who was thereby cheating on his mistress with which he cheated on his girlfriend), and Tomaseti. Both things were kept secret, the first for obvious reasons, the second … for complicated reasons. As I was getting the hang of the whole girl/boy thing, I discovered Loetse. I had known him for 4 years, so I can’t say we met, but something happened. In theory, it lasted only a month – in practice though, it was the start of a platonic relationship that would last several years.

2005: The International Year and another First Kiss
I went on Erasmus, an exchange program, to Ireland for 5 months. In addition to the fun and freedom of living on rooms, I would now have to take on the responsibility of laundry and cooking. Still feeling very insecure socially, I preferred a rainy country where they spoke English over sunny Spain and promptly fell in love with Lite, a Portuguese guy who was there on holidays… . Deciding the long distance road was not ours to take, we broke it off when he went home, although we kept in touch.
That summer can only be described as eventful: I kissed a girl for the first time, cheated on her with Lite (just a kiss… honestly), had a quite dramatic departure from Portugal (think Hollywood), an equally dramatic return to Belgium (think jealous girlfriend), and started a new, long-distance relationship with Lite…

More or less my departure from Portugal. Plus tears. And both of us dating someone else.