Saying goodbye

I’m a realistic person, at least I like to think so.

But sometimes something happens in your life and you start to doubt everything. Tomorrow will be the day that I have to say goodbye to someone, someone who I’ve known for quite some time and for the first time it is someone not from my immediate family and that is difficult.

My best friends’ mother past away last week. I can’t say that it was unexpected or anything. But the speed at which it happens was so quick, I don’t think anyone had expected it to happen this quick. She was sick and in January the doctors gave her a year to two years. However at the end of March she became extremely sick, she couldn’t hold anything down and lost a lot of weight. She contracted a bacteria and on top of that a virus. And no matter what the doctors did nothing helped. And last week she lost her battle.

I want to be there for my friend, but it’s difficult, I have no real experience and I don’t really know what to say or do – except offer my support. I was glad that I was able to see my friends’ mom before she passed away, that she knows that I was there and that she appreciated the fact that I was there. I will remember her radiant smile, despite her sickness her smile lightened up the room.

She was one tough cookie!

Going through something like this also makes you think of the ones you love. Those who are closest to you, in my case my parents, my sister and my grandma are the ones I’m closest too and I couldn’t wait to see them this weekend and give them all a hug. I told them – I don’t know how many times – that I love them.

Tell the people around you that you love them whenever you have the chance.

March in hindsight

March_2017

It’s only April 7th and I’m already working on my next ‘hindsight’ post. I’m proud of myself, I’m certainly making progress! 😉 Sometimes you just have to give yourself a slap on your shoulder, ain’t no one else going to do it for you if you don’t do it yourself.

That proud feeling didn’t last long, it’s now April 15th! And I still haven’t finished this post! That’s not good, I might as well start on my April in hindsight post already, enough has happened for a complete blog post and not all of it is good. Anyway, let’s do this.

City trips

I actually made two trips during the month of March, one to Amersfoort and one to Gouda (I still have to write that blog post) the city of cheese! That is probably what most people know the name Gouda from.

Concerts

One of the best experiences this month was when I was finally able to see Lindsey Stirling perform live on stage, of course I’d seen quite some performances on YouTube, she has after all a lot of performances available on her own YouTube channel as well as fans channels. It was a blast to see Lindsey live on stage.

I was really looking forward to Pinkpop, but after seeing the full line-up I was completely done with it. With more than 30 acts in total divided over three days it’s hard to believe that the line-up didn’t really please me. Some of the bands – the ones that I like are bands I’ve seen before – and the rest of the line-up didn’t really help. I’m not a ‘Belieber’ nor am I a huge Martin Garrix fan. So this years Pinkpop is not for me!

However I did score my next concert ticket! Hanson’s twenty fifth anniversary tour is coming to the Netherlands, and it’s in the best venue in the Netherlands – Paradiso Amsterdam.

Reading and writing

My writing has obviously been lacking, since I still have quite some catching up to do. One of the posts is of course the Gouda city trip and I think I still have one or two book reviews to write.

My reading however has been going better, I finished one book – The Warrior’s Path (When women were warriors #1) and started reading Lindsey Stirling’s book – The only Pirate at the Party. A wonderfully and inspiring book telling the story of Lindsey’s very interesting life and gives you an even better insight into this woman’s interesting life.

Gaming

I’ve been wanting to replay the Mass Effect series for a while now, however I never really got around to it. Now I am aware that I don’t need to replay the old series to start the new part since they are completely separate and I also know that we won’t get our precious Shepard to play with but I felt that I needed to replay them especially since all three games are backwards compatible on the Xbox One.

About that though, I started playing the first part and I was extremely annoyed. For some reason the game feels completely unplayable on the One, I’ve tried to make adjustments to the setting but nothing seems to help. When I first played the series I played them on my computer and I absolutely fell in love with the series for many reasons. It is actually the first game series that I played back to back from start to finish. And for that reason alone it will always have a special place in my heart. The other reason why I love this series is because you get to choose your character – male or female – always a huge plus if you ask me. Besides that this game allows you to choose love interest – even if that is a gay relationship. And I love that!

Looking ahead:

  • HANSON!!! Haha, yes the band made famous with their 1997 hit song Mmmbop is back! Well back is a big word, we fans know that they’ve never been gone to begin with they have always been making music, art projects, festivals and even their own beer – Mmmhop! And now they are coming here to perform live in Paradiso with their ‘Middle of Everywhere tour – the 25th anniversary tour’. Thanks for making us feel old guys! For them 2017 is their 25th year as a band, but for most fans 2017 marks the 20th anniversary as a fan. Since most of the world got to know them through Mmmbop.
  • I’m celebrating my 35th birthday in April … yes, thirty five. Ridiculous!
  • Still haven’t made up my mind about a vacation … really need to get my shit together!
  • At this moment I don’t really have any plans for a city trip, who knows what the future brings.

Concert: Lindsey Stirling

On March 12th 2013 the official video for ‘Radioactive’ by Pentatonix ft. Lindsey Stirling was released. Originally it’s a song by Imagine Dragons which I absolutely loved – I knew it from a Assassin’s Creed III commercial and as the theme song for Defiance, a television show and game which I used to watch and play. So when Pentatonix announced that they were taking on the song I was really happy I love their covers! At that point I was totally unaware of the phenomena that is called Lindsey Stirling, however that didn’t take long. As soon as I’d seen the video I needed to know more.

Who is Lindsey Stirling?

First and foremost she is a violin player, however that is not all she is not by a long shot/  She’s also an composer, dancer, performance artist, YouTube-star and she’s written a book. Just to name a few things. She is an incredibly funny and creative person. She’s an inspiration and I hope that she will forever remain the person she is today, she’s true to herself and believes in herself even when other people think that her ideas are strange and over the top. I admire that in the people around me, the fact that they – against all odds – believe in their own strength.

The jury on America’s Got Talent literally told her that her violin playing sounded like cat’s being strangled (the performance wasn’t her best – you can find it on YouTube – I admit that, but to come back from that and prove them wrong in every single way shows Lindsey’s strength) and to top it off they told her she would never sell out a show in in general but certainly not in Vegas. Which was the next step in the AGT show, Lindsey stranded as a quarter finalist in the 2010 run of the show. But in 2014’s run of the show Lindsey was standing on that very same stage, not as a contestant but as a performer asked by the show to fill in the time while the viewers could vote. And did she prove the jury wrong? You better believe it! That video of course can also be found online.

From there on out her fame grew and Lindsey Stirling is able to fill a concert hall where ever she goes. Even in the Netherlands – on the other side of the world, where you literally never hear Lindsey’s songs on the radio she’s able to sell out a venue! Simply by the fact that fans have found her on YouTube. This was the third time that Lindsey Stirling was in the Netherlands and the first time that I had a chance to see her. We were impatiently waiting in line before the concert started and the line was long … very long. Once we were inside it was an even longer waiting game till the concert actually started. But it was well worth the wait because the concert was top notch.

I was standing on the balcony which gave me a perfect overview of the whole venue as well as the stage. And what I saw made me so happy the group of people who had gathered to see Lindsey Stirling perform was so extremely diverse, there were kids as young as six or seven years old – obviously aspiring violin players – to an elderly lady with a walker – who seemed to be just as impatiently waiting as we all were. Finally the show started and what a show it was.  There was no opening act, so as soon as the first tones of the violin rung through the venue the crowd exploded and the energy coming off the stage was amazing.

Since this was the Brave Enough tour most of the songs played where from the Brave Enough album. The performance on the stage was strengthened by the video walls which covered most of the stage and let’s not forget about the dancers she had with her. Because Lindsey only plays the violin a show like this has to be set up differently than most other bands do. She needs more, and that is why the dancing strengthens her performance. Just imagine the kind of stamina you need to have to put down a show which lasts an hour and a half while you’re dancing and playing the violin all at the same time. Between songs she takes short breaks to tell about the song or her life. Or to talk about her experience on AGT, of course she jokes about the fact that 013 was sold out once again proving the jury wrong. Some of the talks were truly inspirational, or heartbreaking the one before Gavi’s Song was of course dedicated to her friend Gavi and her father who she recently lost. During Gavi’s Song the video walls were filled with video’s from Lindsey, Gavi and the rest of the crew.

I’m so glad that I was able to see Lindsey perform live, another artist I can strike off my list. Next time she’s in the Netherlands I want to see her again. That’s one thing that’s for certain.

City trip: Amersfoort

For my second city trip I choose Amersfoort, a city which is roughly 80 kilometers away from Eindhoven. Which is in all honesty really close if you think about it, but then again compared to some places literally everything in the Netherlands is nearby. However those 80 km away translate to about 100 km by car or train. I used one of my train tickets to get there which gave me some time to get some reading done.

It was a beautiful day – not as good as they said it would be, since it started to rain in the afternoon – and I was up really early which meant that I arrived in Amersfoort around half past ten in the morning. By train it takes about two hours to get there which tells you enough about the time that I woke up in the morning.

I choose Saturday for my trip and at Friday night I still wasn’t sure where I was going. I was thinking of a couple of different options, one being Vlissingen. Which is right next to the sea and I love going to the sea. But the trains weren’t going there that weekend due to some railroad work and that meant that I would have to take the bus instead and if there is one thing you don’t want to do is take the bus instead of the train. Because it takes at least double the time and that is quite generous.

So when that idea was off the table I started looking for other options and eventually decided on Amersfoort, in all honesty I didn’t know anything about Amersfoort so most of the information in the post I had to look up. Amersfoort is a city in the province or county of Utrecht. And it is the second biggest city of the county – after the city of Utrecht. It is the fourteenth biggest city in the Netherlands, but compared to Eindhoven  (the fifth biggest city) it feels rather small it really has more of a town feel to it. Perhaps that is because Eindhoven is industrial and ‘newer’ and Amersfoort (the city center at least) is old and still a lot of parts of the old city wall are visible. Like I said Eindhoven feels newer and more open but looking back in history both cities got their city rights in the 13th century so they have been basically around for the same amount of time. However that is pretty much where the comparison stops. It’s fun to learn these things about the Netherlands, I would have guessed that Eindhoven was much younger. We don’t have a whole lot of old buildings and that is exactly what makes a city like Amersfoort so charming. Don’t get me wrong, Eindhoven has other things I love – as I am writing this I’m sitting in one of the old industrial buildings that the city has given a new purpose. And I love this place you can often find me writing here. But I also love walking through old cities, venturing through small cobbled streets which get really slick when it rains. Those street where you if you look past the street signs, bikes and occasional cars can almost imagine what life must have been like in the old days. You can’t do that when you’re walking though Eindhoven, at least it’s hard to imagine anything beyond the beginning of the 20th century.

When I arrived at the railway station I started to make my way down the city center, I of course looked at some of the shops the city has to offer and at all the beautiful store fronts and restaurants. Amersfoort has the same feel as Maastricht and Utrecht for instance although both of those cities are a lot busier. I kind of missed a big square where you can sit and have a meal but that probably had to do with the fact that there was a market that filled the two squares that I came across. One of the squares was so filled with different market stalls that you could hardly see the surrounding buildings nor did it really invite you to go into the stores or sit down because your view would be blocked by the backside of the market stalls – which is usually not the most attractive sight. Which in my opinion was a shame, the other square was a lot emptier but at the same time it didn’t have the diners or the potential to take a seat on a terrace and enjoy the view like you have for instance in Maastricht. That took away a lot of potential customers for the diners especially on a Saturday afternoon, it’s a bit of strange choice in my opinion.

In the middle ages the city had a wall surrounding it to keep the citizens safe from outside dangers, part of that wall is still visible and surrounding the city center, I took a walk around the wall. It really made me wonder about all the historical significant details those walls must have seen since the day they where raised. Man! Just imagine if those walls could talk!

Anyway I’ll insert some pictures give you an idea of what Amersfoort looks like. In my opinion it’s definitely worth visiting if you have a chance. There is a lot to see and I bet that in the summer there is even a lot more to do as well. I know that there are some boats which can take you on a trip underneath the city. I didn’t have a chance to check that out but I’ve done something similar in Den Bosch a few years back and it was really interesting. There is also the Mondriaan Museum – one of the Netherlands well-known artpainters, even if you don’t know who he is you are bound to known his work which consist of red, yellow, blue and black squares. Piet Mondriaan was born in Amersfoort in 1872. The museum unfortunately wasn’t open yet because they were renewing some things inside. So that was kind of a shame, I might have gone there if it had been open.

My next city trip will be to Den Bosch or as it is also known s’Hertogenbosch, I need to look up why it’s known under two different names.

February in hindsight

February_2017

February the shortest month of the year is certainly proving to be right. It even feels like this month was even shorter somehow, time is flying by so fast I can hardly comprehend that another month is done!

City trip

The month was so short and busy that I hardly had any time to make any trips, I’m right now planning a trip or maybe even two for March. So there will certainly be at least one, but I’ve purchased three train tickets which I can use during the weekends. I have to use the three ticket on three days before April 16th – which happens to be my birthday. The weekend before is my dad’s birthday, so I am going to have to use them during March.

Reading and writing

I managed to finish reading two different books – completely different books at that. they couldn’t have been any further apart. I finished reading ‘Gone Girl’ written by Gillian Flynn which I really liked but also offered a huge insight into how sick a persons mind can actually be and how – with a lot of planning and deception – you can trick anyone into believing the story you spin in front of their eyes. After reading that book I needed something completely different, something lighter so I followed it by a children’s’ book ‘Fortunately, the milk’ and I wrote the for both books during February.

I’m planning on reading at least one book during March, of course I hope to be able to add more than just one to my list but the books I’m currently reading are quite thick. One is a paperback and the other one I’m reading on my tablet, my tablet is easier to bring with me when I’m out and about and the paperback is what I read when I’m at home. Which is why it sometimes takes such a long time to finish the books.

Gaming

I’ve been a gamer for quite some time now I started with some games on my desktop computer. Then I had a Playstation 2 and a PSP way back when, but now I’m in love with the Xbox One. I recently sold my old Xbox 360 because I wasn’t using it anymore,  especially since most of the games I own are backwards compatible on the Xbox One. I bought the Xbox 360 as a test, it was a refurbished model I wanted to see if I would use it or if it would be gathering dust in a short amount of time. Since that wasn’t the case I bought the Xbox One last year together with The Division which means that it is now a year old. If I remember correctly the release date for The Division was early March. And I have been using it quite a lot. The Division is still my favorite game to play but I have also been doing quite a bit of Destiny, Assassins Creed and I’ve been recently I started playing GTA V.

I was really looking forward to March because of two games that are being released this month. Ghost Recon Wild Lands and Mass Effect Andromeda. Ghost Recon is of course from the same developer as The Division. And Mass Effect is actually the first game series which I played from the first game till the third game all the way through to the end. So it’s nostalgia and I really want to see it.

Looking ahead:

  • Planning another city trip, who knows where I might go this time? S’Hertogenbosch (also known as Den Bosch) or Vlissingen, Amersfoort maybe. And I’m thinking of Groningen. But we’ll see which places I’ve actually visited when the once the month of March is over.
  • Lindsey Stirling – My first concert of 2017, actually my first concert in almost a year! That’s bad, I really need to go and see more concerts. The venue is 013 – Tilburg, March 17th. I’m so looking forward to this one, I have high expectations and she has been on my list for a while along with Pentatonix (PTX) who I still hope to be able to see although truth be told I’ve already missed a couple of concerts they’ve given in the Netherlands.
  • We’ve planned the High Tea, I’m going together with my mom and sister on the 19th of March! It’s something I’ve been wanting to do for the longest time and finally we are going! We’re also planning on a small shopping spree while were at it.
  • Pinkpop 2017 – the Pinkpop press conference is during the month of March which also means that by the end of it we’ll know most of the names that’ll visit us during the three days in June and the sale for the tickets will start a couple of days later! By the looks of it I’ll have to be fast if I want to get tickets, especially since Justin Bieber has been announced. Mind you, he’s definitely not on my ‘must see’-list but if he’s there why not. The music he’s been making has been quite catchy to say the least. Besides that Green Day, the Kings of Leon, System of a Down and Martin Garrix have been confirmed as well.
  • Planning a vacation! So many choices, so many places to visit! I still have to make up my mind about a destination.

Book 2 – Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman

2017_fortunatelythemilk

After reading a story about characters as twisted and as sick as ‘Amazing Amy’ in Gone Girl, I certainly needed to read something completely different. Something uplifting and fun, with a different pace and that book came in the form of ‘Fortunately, the Milk’ by Neil Gaiman and illustrator Skottie Young.

And it was literally the best choice I could have made at that time. This story definitively was what I needed I had so much fun reading it. The book has 160 pages – at least my version has – however since there are a lot of drawings in the book the story is relatively short. The fact that the story is relatively short doesn’t take away how awesome it is.

It’s basically one of the most surprising stories I’ve read in a long time it simply starts with a father who has to take care of his kids because his wife is away on a business trip for a couple of days. As all moms would do she’s given him a couple of tasks for the days that she’s away. And as all moms do she has already made sure that most things are taken care of before she leaves. One of the simple tasks that she asks her husband to do is getting milk for the kids’ cereal. But as most dads do in a situation like this, he forgets to buy the milk in the store and one of the mornings the kids want their cereal but there is no more milk.

The dad goes out to get some milk from the store on the corner, and promises to his kids to come back quickly. Not only because the kids need the milk for their cereal but also because he needs it for his own tea. However it takes a long, long time for the dad to return and the kids get worried and hungry. Finally when the dad returns he tells his kids the most wonderful adventure all revolving around a simple milk carton and why it took him so long to return home.

Besides the very adventurous story the book is also filled by wonderfully creative drawings made by Skottie Young. The portrayal of the story is simply perfect. The drawings are all in black and white but for some reason I felt the extreme urge to grab my color pencils and start coloring the drawings, probably because a lot of details were told in such a vivid way that you could color it exactly the way it was meant to be colored in.

I’m really curious now to read more of Neil Gaiman’s books, I know some of my friends love his work but up until now I wasn’t familiar with it. Does anyone have any recommendations for other books by Neil Gaiman I can read, there are so many books to choose from!

Yes, this is one to read!

Book 1 – Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

2017_gonegirl

A very surprising book!

I have read quite a few crime books and I have encountered a lot of twisted characters in those books, from terrorists to cold blooded murderers. But none of them was as twisted as one of the characters I encountered in this book. Nothing could have prepared me for this.

The title ‘Gone Girl’ tells you all you need to know, a woman disappears into thin air leaving behind a strangely acting husband, an overturned living room and a huge badly cleaned up blood pool on the kitchen floor. To top it off it becomes more and more clear that their marriage wasn’t as good as it should have been. There is mutual anger and resentment between the spouses. They’d been at odds for a while and since both of them lost their job and they moved from New York city to a small town where Nick grew up because his mother was dying. To top it off there were financial troubles and Nick is cheating on his wife with a much younger woman.

Most of the time when I read I use my tablet, just because it’s easier to take with me. I’ve read this book in the train to Rotterdam for example and I took it with me to the library. I remember specifically being at 40% percent of the book when I was wondering where the hell the story was going. At that point I honestly couldn’t figure it out! I was so curious to read more and figure it out, but whatever idea I came up with would have never even come close to the actual story.

What I didn’t know at that time was that I was actually at the breaking point in the story. Within a matter of a few pages the story started to change in a very different direction – very surprising direction I might add. I don’t want to give away too much of the plot, this is one you really need to read or see for yourself. Even if I tried to explain it I could never do it justice.

Book vs. movie

This is a book which has been turned into the film and out of curiosity I choose to watch the movie as well. The thing is that I finished the book before I watched the movie which seems the logical order since the book was written first. It’s always intriguing to see how books and movies compare and I am able to separate the two. I know that a lot of people have trouble separating books and movies but I’m not one of them, I can enjoy both of them and see them for what they are.

The book and the movie are really similar, of course there are some things left out. That happens a lot in movies for obvious reasons, they often only have a hour and a half or two hours to tell the story. The book goes at a slower pace, the movie has a faster pace of course they need to capture the audiences attention in a different manner. While in a book they can take the time to build up the story, a writer can capture so much more than a movie could ever do.

To me the movie was less interesting, which isn’t all that surprising since I read the book and I knew what to expect and I could see all the plot twists coming. I think that if I hadn’t read the book the plot twits would have surprised me just as much as they did while I was reading it. There is no way you can foresee that twisted character development.