Saturday, February 19, 2011

English Wisdom

"Racism is a plague. It's a disease of the mind and must be stamped out in all it's forms. I live in a multicultural city and consider all my countrymen brothers and sisters until they have proven otherwise.
History has allowed us to see what comes of racial prejudice and when it's on the rise in the West again, I grow very concerned.
We were not raised to be lowered."
You hit the nail right on the head!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Dear Neighbors...

For the love of the gods, and your own health, please do not argue with the guy who is trimming the trees. He is currently 40 feet in the air and wielding a chainsaw and you are being nasty to him. You are not in a good position, here. (I have no idea what the hell you are bitching about, btw. The tree he was trimming was not even in front of your house.)

Now that tree is gone, and I'm not sure why since there was nothing wrong with it. Perhaps you pissed him off. Also, he does not appear to be coming to trim my tree, which desperately needs it. Possibly because he had to take too much time out of his day to argue with you instead of doing his job.

For the third time in a year my tree will be ignored because you people can't just shut up and let them do their jobs. I understand that they do wierd things when they trim the trees here, but I was given to understand that that was normal tree management here. But because you complain, my tree will remain untrimmed, probably for another year during which the dead branches are going to break off and hopefully will not hit me while I sit on the balcony.

Thanks guys! I love taking my life into my hands when I want to enjoy my balcony. I hope that Pine Martin that lives in the front parking lot chews the wiring out of your cars.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Men and Marriage...

My husband is wonderful, and there are so many reasons why that I won't gush because while he will certainly enjoy the boost to his ego, at some point it just gets embarassing. But here, all of those wonderful qualities are basically entirely ignored for what I consider to be ridiculous ones. Think, if you will, on the following conversation:

Woman: "Who is babysitting Bree while you are at work at night?"
Me: "No one. Xen is taking care of her."
Woman: "Aww, that's so sweet that he's babysitting her. Aren't you worried though?"
Me: "Um, no... He *is* her father, not a babysitter. It's his job to take care of her."
Woman: "You must have a great husband!"

I realized how insulting that was to my husband immediately. But I have gotten compliments from a lot of people about him doing basic child care like giving her a bath, a bottle, feeding her, or changing her diaper. It's not that I don't appreciate that he does these things, because I most certainly do. But I don't think that his doing his job as a father is anymore worthy of praise than me doing my job as a mother. Of course he does those things, because our daughter requires them. He is a good father. He's not doing anything that I find out of the ordinary.

Perhaps it's because my grandfather was and remains a large influence in my life. He always told me that a real man takes care of his family and whatever needs they may have. That includes caring for his children. He's absolutely disgusted when he comes across a man who thinks that it's not his job to change diapers, or other various childrearing responsibilies. He and my grandmother shared the parenting responsibilities. As did his parents, who considered a division of labor where the man earns all of the money and the woman stays home with the children to be a product of prosperity. In fact, my great-grandmother told me that men not helping with the kids was a "rich person's problem." They were not rich; my great grandfather worked during the day, and then my great grandmother worked at night.

Thus I find the mindset exhibited by those people who consider my husband extraordinary for being a father to be entirely alarming. 

He is really awesome, no doubt. But not because he can change diapers.

Another conversation I had concerning contraception resulted in a truly revolting statement from this woman:

Me: "I haven't gotten my period since Bree was born, so that baggie in my purse is just incase I get it here."
Lady: "How is that even possible? OMG YOU MUST BE PREGNANT AGAIN."
Me: "No, I'm not. I'm breastfeeding and that's normal. Also, you need to be having sex in order to get pregnant. Bree's birth was really traumatic for me so we haven't really been intimate since."
Lady: "What?!? You should go see a doctor, it's not normal that you don't have your period! And what does Xen think about you not having sex?!?"
Me: "He thinks that he'd rather have me mentally sound and we can have sex when he can touch me without me flinching away from him."
Lady: "Wow, he accepts that? You must have a great husband!"

OMG, seriously Lady? It's normal for women here to be forced by their husbands into having sex whether they want it or not?!? Where I come from, that's called marital rape. And that's sooo not normal, acceptable, or okay. My husband is not a rapist. That also doesn't make him a great husband. Even the most mediocre husband can probably manage to not rape their wives. I dare say even most horrible husbands wouldn't do that.

How do we benefit from setting the bar so low for the behavior of men in our society. Now I understand that this may all be a cultural difference, or perhaps even generational. But how low must one's standards be for a man if it's normal or accepted that they will rape their wives? Or that it's a woman's duty to have sex with her husband regardless of her own desire? If you're in that kind of a relationship, aren't you basically a prostitute, allbeit in a socially acceptable package? A prostitute trades her sexual services in return for money. A wife trades hers for the same and the added joy of waiting on her husband hand and foot, bearing his children, cooking for him, cleaning for him, and being obediant and subserviant to him?

I'm not a prostitute, nor a slave to my husband. It's a relationship of equals. And one equal does not have the right to impose his or her will on the other. We share responsibilities for our family, including child care and house work. That makes us a family, and a partnership. That doesn't make us extraordinary, it makes us functional on a very basic level.

I'm not exceptional because I love and respect my husband, nor because I work, take care of Bree, or the dogs, or any of the other ordinary things that I do. I'm not exceptional because I manage to not rape my husband. He's not exceptional for any of those reasons either. We don't want praise for those things, especially when they get more attention than the things that we do that are truly wonderful. 

Monday, October 25, 2010

On children and insanity...

Have you ever had one of those moments where it's really driven home that you are so very alien and foreign that you don't know just what the hell you're doing or why you are where you are? I had one of those the other night at work when my boss decided to bring up the subject of Xen and I having more kids. She asked if I wanted to have another one, and I, like the idiot I am, answered truthfully that we want four more.

She completely lost her shit.

"Oh my god, you're insane. No way. No way. You are really, truely insane now. You're so abnormal! You're nuts! In this day and age, having that many kids is insane and irresponsible! Don't you know, kids need things! Sure, Bree is young now, and you don't understand, but when she gets older and goes to school, she's going to go over her friend's house and see something that she likes and come home and say "MAMA, Ik wil dat!" (For you English speakers: Mommy, I want that!) She continued: "Kids today are different, and the world is different, and kids today NEED things. It's too expensive! You're nuts if you want that many kids! And you have a young family! What is going to happen?"

Now, not that I'm particularly surprised by her reaction, especially hearing an eerily similar conversation that my husband had with his co-workers about how many kids we want. His co-workers even went so far as to tell him that he should just have one more, a boy, and stop. He said that he responsed that "Biology doesn't work like that. Should we then just keep having useless, apparently socially valueless girls until we produce that magical male heir?"

The reason these people are so adamant and freaked out: Cost. Oh dear lord, everything here comes down to money. Now I know that having kids you can't afford is irresponsible, but that's not what we're talking about. We can afford kids NOW. So we want to finish having our kids NOW. I do not want to be like your average Dutch woman and start having kids after age 35. And honestly, I don't mind one bit if we are slightly less well off because we have more kids. Kids to me aren't about the cost, because honestly, if they were, we'd never have had any and we never would have rescued or fostered the dogs that we have. Having that family, and my kids having those kinds of relationships with their siblings, is worth more than all of the wealth in the world.

My family LOVES kids. The more the merrier! We're loud and there's a zillion of us, but we take care of each other. I'm close with my family, even my extended family, out to like 3rd or 4th cousins and Great Aunts and Uncles. When I still lived in the states, I saw my family every single day. We all live within a few towns of each other there, we're constantly doing things and hanging out with each other because we enjoy doing so. My grandparents are the most wonderful people, and they love and adore their grandchildren and now great grandchildren. Even my great grandmother lives close by, and sees her family every day, which at 92 is awesome. A lot of families seem to just drop the elderly into a home and forget about them.

I can assure you that if we were all thinking about the cost of family we wouldn't have had one. Somethings are worth much more than money. And it seems very apparent that Dutch people would rather have more useless crap that they don't need than close familial ties. Hell... Most Dutch families don't even seem like they particularly like each other very much. They're very cold most of the time. The affection that my family (well at least most of my family) brims with, is almost entirely lacking here. It is very depressing at times, and Xen thinks that it was a major contributor to him being a sociopath. (Don't worry, he's getting better, and he's not crazy. He's smart enough to have realized that being a sociopath probably isn't a good thing and taken steps to get beyond it.)

Like most things here, it's just... different. And in this case, I don't think it's a difference that I particularly like.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

FAQ Attack

So, for those who aren't familiar (ha!) with me or my current situation, I will fill you in with one easy post!

I decided to make this an adult content blog because I will at some point talk about things that are of an adult nature, or curse and you should all be forewarned. Culture Shock is enough to make anyone get nasty at times, and I am certainly no exception.

I am originally from New Jersey, USA, but I currently live in the Netherlands. I moved here to be with my husband (Xentor) five years ago. We live in the armpit of the country: Limburg. (Yes, home of the cheese. Yes, it stinks.)

I have two dogs. Layka and Zoey. Laika is afraid of everything and likes working and so helps me around the house. Teaching her to help with Laundry and to throw away baby diapers has helped her to stop being afraid of things falling on her and the garbage can. Zoe is our blonde dog. She is not very smart, and pees on things when she gets happy, scared, or for no reason at all.

I have a 9 month old daughter, named Bree (At least for the purposes of this blog). I will at some point talk about my children, having children, and things that relate in way or another to having children. If you can't handle that, please hit the back button. (Also, get over yourself.)

I did not move to this country because I am from a third world country.

I did not move to this country because I just love doing drugs so much I had to go where they were legal. (I don't do drugs!)

I am not an illegal Polish hooker.

I play several instruments with the local woodwind band, and used to sing with the local choir and play the French horn with a brass band. Xentor is also a member of these bands, playing several brass instruments. The only one we're continuing to play with is the woodwind band, because having a small baby means that social engagements are cancelled for the foreseeable future. 

This is a fairly boring and silly post, but I don't have much brainpower at the moment because I haven't had enough coffee and I'm trying to do this quickly before Bree wakes up from her nap. (Which will be soon, if the fart that she just let out is any indication.)

So, I guess, thanks for reading and hit the follow button if you want to be updated when there's a new post. Also, if you're a foreigner living in the Netherlands and may want to contribute to this blog, please contact me!

Ooo, My first post...

And a new blog! I'll post something after I get my settings done!