Hi There!

(For my Dutch-English translating and proofreading business, please go to my D-E Translating WordPress site. Thank you.)

Welcome to my blog.

I’m an energetic, slim, reasonably pretty thirty-year-old. However, I reside in a rather shocking, obese, aching, apathetic 55-year-old body. I love living in Austin but I’m chock-full of criticism of America in general. The Rockies bring me to tears, but so does the health care system. I’ve adopted Thanksgiving, but not the Pledge of Allegiance. If I seem elated and unbearably grouchy in sometimes schizophrenically quick succession, this is why.

I love the usual: my husband, my children, my friends and our pets. I hate heat, willful ignorance, bone spurs, spiders, and walking or cycling in place.

I collect raft books and I’ve developed a weird obsession with the bottoms of bridges.

When I lived in the Netherlands, twenty-three years ago, I loved hot tea, wild camping in Great Britain, gardening, reading for days on end, and I walked and cycled everywhere. Now that I live in a pretty darn hot part of the US, with kids who have to be driven everywhere by car, I love reminiscing about hot tea, wild camping in Great Britain, gardening, reading for days on end and walking and cycling everywhere…

My blog is a crazy—some might say completely unhinged–collection of posts about any of the above-mentioned issues and then some. Nothing is sacred. I blatantly ignore all American no-nos. Which means I talk politics, religion, I don’t idolize  teachers and I swear (but not that much).

As you read my posts you might laugh, seethe, weep or shrug your shoulders. If you like a post, great. Let me know. If you hate a post, great, let me know. I’d like to think I’m always right, but don’t let that stop you from telling me if you disagree. We Dutch love a good debate.

If you want to know more about how I ended up in America and an overview of how that’s been, visit my About page.

Otherwise, have at it!

(In my posts, I refer to my husband as T, my 19-year-old son as B, and my 17-year-old daughter as R.)

I Pledge Intolerance to Bigotry

safety-pinThings changed profoundly in this country on November 8. Mostly for the worse. In so far as things changing for the better, as far as the better half waking up and smelling the shit–it was all too little and too late.

The media did too little to stand up to half the voting public (minus two million or so), which ultimately turned out to be okay with a presidential candidate who displayed his personal racism, xenophobia, misogyny, islamophobia, who bullied any minority you can think of and then some, and who gleefully encouraged these undemocratic and just plain deplorable behaviors in his followers. Even now the media is mostly pussy-footing around the fact that Trump and his voters are in fact deplorable. Article upon article discusses “how to talk about racism so racists will listen” (spoiler alert: whatever you do, you’re not supposed to mention the word racism), how the Trump voters were mainly concerned with the economy, etc, etc.

Bullshit!

It’s not that they were willing to overlook Trump’s racism, xenophobia, misogyny and Islamophobia because he seemed the right choice for the economy. No, they overlooked the fact that everything he has ever done has been to enrich himself, that he often did that at the expense of those beneath him in his pecking-order world, that he bragged about paying as little in taxes as possible, that he declared bankruptcy several times, always at the expense of others and no pain to himself, that even during his campaign he put himself and his business first whenever he had the chance, that he was born with a silver spoon in his mouth and that he looked down from his golden elevator at the “poorly educated”.

They overlooked all that because he said the things they were thinking: the racist, misogynistic, Islamophobic, xenophobic thoughts that they were thinking. And now that Trump will be the next president, these folks feel that they, too, can finally say what they have been thinking all this time. Hell, the ultra-right white supremacists are positively orgasmic at the thought of having Steve Bannon as Trump’s brain in the White House–their views will now be mainstream.

And the proof is here for all to see: Trump voters do not spray swastikas on walls because of the economy, they don’t scream at women wearing hijabs because they feel unheard. The daughter of good friends of mine is in college right now. She’s Korean-American, barely five feet tall and not even ninety pounds. The other day she was late to class, so there was hardly anyone in the halls. Two big fat white guys decided it was funny to block the doors so she couldn’t get in. Six doors in a row, and every time she went to the next door, they moved, too, laughing their heads off. But she moved all the way to the door at the far end, with those idiots following her and blocking her, and because she’s smaller and faster and a hell of a lot smarter, she then ran to the door on the other end and got in and continued to her class. These “students” were not blocking her way because they were economically disenfranchised. They did this because they were racist, misogynistic assholes. We’ve all heard about or personally experienced this kind of bullying and worse since the election.

This is not okay! This is not normal! This is not understandable! Predictable, yes, explainable, yes, but definitely not okay! Not to me, anyway. This is some seriously scary stuff. I’m not afraid for myself that much–I’m afraid for all my black, brown, LGBTQ, disabled, foreign and female friends, family and acquaintances. And for me, the most effective way not to be afraid is to be angry. I won’t tolerate these folks. I am not ready to be part of the “healing” and the “coming together” that some are promoting. I don’t want to come together with racists. I don’t even want to visualize any healing with misogynists. I’m not going to be all kumbaya with bullies and bigots. I distance myself from them–they are not welcome in my house. I will distance myself from them unless they identify themselves by their behavior–in that case I will be all over them, literally.

I pledge to wear a safety pin–or some more effective visual differentiation if it comes along–as long as this deplorable, developmentally stunted, Constitution-trampling, pussy-grabbing goldfish sits in the White House. I will wear it not so much as a sign of solidarity with all the people Trump, his handlers and his followers hate, which should be a given, but as a warning to anyone who is thinking of bullying someone in my presence. I may not be armed and I may not know karate, because I’m a pacifist after all. But I do weigh two hundred pounds (for now)–I can trip them up and sit on them until the police arrive. And if the police are the ones doing the bullying, I will use my white privilege to get in their faces as well. (They might arrest me and put me in jail, but since I’m a middle-aged white woman with a lot of built-in padding, I’ll probably live to blog about it.)

I’m not saying and doing this because I want to be woke, or because I view all minorities or women as victims, or because I feel guilty for my white privilege–I’m saying and doing this because I’m PISSED OFF!

—–

So what are you doing to prevent this new order from becoming the new normal? Let me know in a comment. And if you’re a Trump voter and you don’t agree with me, you can comment, too, as long as you use complete sentences and your arguments are based on facts.

 

America, I Just Want to Slap You!

Image: time.com

Image: time.com

I know that anger is one of the stages of grief, as pundits are pointing out right now, but you know what? This isn’t grief. This isn’t about something that’s lost already–it’s about something that we are watching as it goes down the drain before our eyes.

I’m still furious. Furious at the folks who claim not to be racist or misogynistic or anti-LGBTQ or Islamophobic, but who nonetheless did their part to get this vile slug into the White House. Furious at all the democrats who didn’t vote because they thought they had it in the bag; furious at the Democratic Party for not having their act together; furious at Glenn Beck, who now rails against Trump, after first being complicit in creating him with his “Glenn Beck University”, where he told folks what to be angry about, unhindered by any facts or common sense.

And I’m furious at everyone who is only now speaking up. Now there are articles every day in my Flipboard feed that compare this time to the German 1930s, now there are people wondering if maybe they shouldn’t have allowed all this fake news on the social media and Fox “News” that has led to half the country being bat-shit delusional, now there are articles and books showing up that instruct folks on how to tell the difference between fiction and fact.

Well, it’s a little late!

And even now some of the articles I come across–some of which I’ve shared on my Resident Alien Facebook page–are still half apologetic for being “alarmist”. Even now pundits are debating whether Trump really ever meant what he said,  or whether he was play-acting, whether this is going to be one great big bait and switch, whether he actually is the smart businessman he claims to be and that therefore he will surround himself with smart, competent people.

Even now people are saying we should give him a chance. A chance to do what? A chance to open up the coal mines again at a time when global warming is already in a feedback loop? Four years is way, way too long to keep denying climate change, let alone for taking the country backwards.

Wake up, America! Half the country is clearly way more racist than you thought, way more uneducated and therefore too easily manipulated by a demagogue than you thought–in other words, way more dangerous than you thought. Stop saying that fascism won’t happen here. It’s happening! Trump was elected president. He’s already making threats against Harry Reid for saying negative things about him. He’s got a white supremacist as his Chief Strategist, for Christ’s sake!

But even though all this just happened, it’s still not too late. The only reason I could see for having super-delegates during the primaries was to put a stop to an anti-Constitutional train wreck if Joe Public was ever deluded enough for it to get that far. It did, Joe was, but the super-delegates wimped out. But there’s still a second chance: the electoral college. It can do the same. Just don’t vote for Trump. What other reason can there possibly be for its existence?

If the electoral college doesn’t throw Trump out, then that’s it. America will have committed the biggest fuck-up in history. Yes, bigger than the European fascists of the 1930s, because back then it was unprecedented. But that’s history now. There is absolutely no excuse for not seeing this coming and not stopping it while you still have the chance. And this time there’s even more at stake than in the 1930s–allowing this willfully ignorant goldfish in the White House at a time when there are no checks and balances, thanks to a Republican House and Senate, will affect not just the people of the world, but very the earth itself.

This is not alarmism, this is being realistic. Wake the fuck up!

 

 

The Days After

Image: usatoday.com

Image: usatoday.com

Well.

This is day five since Trump was elected to be the next president of the United States, and realizing that all three branches of government will be Republican come January.

I started crying around 11 pm on election  night, and didn’t stop for almost two days. On Wednesday morning, as I was driving R to school, I told her to stay calm at school if Trump supporters were gloating, and to not give them the satisfaction of seeing her upset. I finished that sentence as we pulled into a parking space at the convenience store to get snacks, and the moment we set foot inside, tears just started streaming down my face. So much for that.

I spent the rest of that day in bed, crying every moment I was awake, which, admittedly, wasn’t often. I thought, I hate this fucking country; I was invited to join a book club and I thought, oh, now we’re going to be all cultured in rural America? I don’t think so. I thought, half the country has lost its marbles and I thought, we’re witnessing the beginning of the end of the earth, because if Trump pulls out of the Paris Agreement, we’re all fucked. I stayed off Facebook, the news, Flipboard; I was isolating myself completely, and those first two days, that’s what I needed.

On Thursday I got on Facebook and I saw lots of inspiring posts about donating to or volunteering for causes and groups that will likely suffer under Trump, such as the environment and, well, practically everyone who’s not rich, white, male, cis, hetero, and conservative. I donated to the Sierra Club and will donate to the ACLU soon. I put the Million Women March to the state capitol on January 21 in my planner.

I’ve also been crying and ranting and screaming (on the inside) upon reading every article about who Trump will probably have in his cabinet. I’ve also read lots of articles about the momentum in the renewable energy sector, and how Trump will have limited influence there. Maybe it won’t be so bad, I thought at first, to calm myself. And right after that I thought, that’s what they said when Hitler came to power; that’s what they said when the Germans invaded the Netherlands.

Of course, to even think that it won’t be so bad, you have to be at the very least white. Trump just made Steve Bannon of Breitbart infamy his Chief Strategist. Trump’s campaign already emboldened racists and bigots, and now that he’s won, they’re really coming out of the woodwork. Hate crimes are being committed and racial slurs are being yelled and sprayed on walls all over the country as I write this.

On Friday R was rummaging in the kitchen drawers for safety pins. I asked her what she needed a safety pin for, and she told me that it tells people that you’re safe to be with. I showed her where the safety pins were and I took one, too. It wasn’t much, but it was something I could do.

The safety pin is becoming a symbol of anti-bigotry, but people are arguing about that as well, saying on the one hand that it symbolizes a pledge to actually speak up and stand up to every hateful expression you witness toward anyone who is on Trump’s shit list, even if it means putting yourself in harm’s way, and on the other hand that the pin is a useless symbol that doesn’t accomplish anything, that you should instead donate to or volunteer for various causes. I, for one, can walk and chew gum at the same time. I can donate and volunteer and wear the pin, if only because it might prevent violence. After all, bullies are at heart cowards, and knowing that others will stand up for the potential target of their hate might make them think twice.

And then there are folks who are voicing their frustration on Facebook about the “whining”. The election is over, they say, so let’s get back to puppies and kittens. The one thing that really boggles my mind about all of this is how unbelievably naive Americans can be. This is not your average election. Various elements have aligned to give a dangerously ignorant, potential fascist carte blanche for the next four years. We should be able to talk about that, and about what we can do or not do, and watch videos of cute puppies and kittens.

In short, I think we’re all still reeling and that it will take a while to regain our balance. It might even take four years.

 

 

Graceful I Am Not!

crocsToday’s writing prompt is Graceful.

Ha-ha-ha!

If there’s ever a word that describes what I am not most completely, it’s graceful. I’m the epitome of the proverbial bull in a china shop. More like a stumbling drunk bull in the British Museum’s Asia section. Watch out folks, here she comes. Hide your valuables!

I’ve always been a bull in a china shop, but it was living here, or rather in the Rio Grande Valley, that made me fully realize it. We Dutch are known for our bluntness, for saying what we think, when we think it. No reading between the lines required. It’s all out there. And I’m a prime specimen, because, looking back, I always tended to barge right in, even to Dutch standards.

Then I emigrated to Texas. Oh boy! If ever there’s a culture where most information is conveyed between the lines, it’s here. When we were out for lunch at a country club buffet with friends of T not long after I arrived, I headed straight for the main course. T’s friend asked if I wanted some salad first. I said no thanks, but later I realized he was saying that I was supposed to have salad first. When someone asks me, “Would you like some more of that guacamole?” they might actually be offering me more guacamole, but chances are, it’s a comment on how much guacamole I’m heaping on my plate. Graceful ways to point out what I’m doing wrong. And me ungracefully not getting the hint immediately. Although I have to say: there was more than enough guacamole for everyone, and it’s not like you can keep the leftovers.

I’m also not a graceful dresser. If I wear high heels, I stumble like–well, like a drunken bull. I’m most comfortable in a Walmart T-shirt and my pink-and-purple crocs. When a relative of T’s gave me some tiny brushes for my first Texas Christmas, I thanked her–sincerely, because miniature versions of anything are always cute–and then I asked what they were for. Because I had no clue. They were eyebrow brushes. Oh. Okay. Apparently I was supposed to brush my eyebrows. And here I’d been, going through life with ungroomed brows! After twenty-three years, I’m still under-dressed at every occasion, even when I do my best. And my eyebrows are still a tangled mess.

One thing that is definitely worse here in America is the way things just come out sounding wrong. I know that’s a language thing, and I shouldn’t beat myself up about it, but I do. One of the earliest examples that comes to mind actually happened in England. I was sitting in front of my tent at a camp site, when two American college kids started to set up their tent nearby. It was clearly the first time they’d ever tried setting up any tent, and they didn’t get very far. When they looked in my direction, I offered to help. They gratefully accepted, so I showed them to first do this, then you do that, and then this thingy goes here and the rest you can probably figure out for yourself. One of them responded with Oh-kaaay… The reason I ended with that they could probably figure out the rest was that it was so self-evident that showing them how to do that as well would have seemed like I thought they were stupid, bu that’s what they ended up thinking anyway, because it didn’t come out right. This kind of thing still happens a lot.

And then there’s dealing with compliments.  When someone compliments me on an accomplishment, I am usually able to respond somewhat gracefully with Well, thank you! But if someone compliments me on how I look, I usually pull a face, like Yeah, right! A friend once pointed out that when I respond that way, I’m actually insulting the person who gave the compliment, as if he/she has terrible taste. So I try to remember that, but if I do, it’s usually the day after, at the earliest.

I have gotten better over the years, and I’ve definitely improved more than I would have if I’d stayed in the Netherlands, simply because the opposites are more extreme here. Meaning me being the opposite of graceful Texans, as opposed to me being the opposite of only slightly less barge-like Dutch people.

Nowadays I occasionally come home from parties or other gatherings where I managed all evening not to have something come out wrong, even when I’ve had a beer or two, and when I realize it, I give myself a mental pat on the back. Such are my little immigrant accomplishments. I’ve also  learned to not always say what I think, and that sharing my thoughts the moment they occur to me isn’t always useful or effective. It certainly helps with parenting–being even a smidgen wiser than a teenager can give you a big leg up!

I may still not comb my eyebrows, but I do wear lipstick when I have time and I remember, which is at least a few times a month. At fifty-five my face is sagging, and at first glance it’s not altogether clear where my mouth ends and the lines extending from the corners of my mouth down to beyond my chin begin, which gives me a look that could easily be misinterpreted as a permanently disapproving scowl. Lipstick helps to define where my mouth ends, so I look friendlier. At least, that’s my theory.

Well, even this post isn’t graceful. I’m trying to think of things that I do gracefully, but I seriously can’t think of a single thing. Maybe my next post will be about things Americans are not very graceful about, so I can feel better about myself, he-he.

What are you graceful about? Or not? When do/did you ever feel like a bull in a china shop? How come? Let me know in a comment.

 

 

 

From Gaming Faux Pas to Immigration Insights

Image: innogames.com

Image: innogames.com

Sometimes I go over my blog, to see if there is at least some semblance of balance between positive and negative posts. I don’t want to always sound angry and whiny, especially in my posts that are more directly related to being an immigrant in this crazy country. That wouldn’t be an accurate reflection of my state of mind outside of this blog. Nevertheless, anger and resentment do seem to crop up on a regular basis. How is it that I am still able to keep that up after twenty-three years? Continue reading

Dear NBC, About that Episode of The Blacklist…

Image: nbc.com

Image: nbc.com

Dear Blacklist producers,

I’ve been binge-watching season 3 on Netflix. Since you probably won’t actually be reading this and others will, allow me to set it up.

James Spader plays a larger than life, debonair master criminal who helps the FBI bag other master criminals, but really, the FBI is helping him in plans it has no knowledge of.

It’s an enjoyable enough series, but the end of episode 10 got my goat. Don’t worry, producers, I won’t spoil anything. Continue reading

Fun Facts About Facts, Truth, and Reality

Image: addictinginfo.org

Image: addictinginfo.org

Donald Trump is worried that the mediator in the first presidential debate on Monday will fact-check his statements. That right there should tell you everything you need to know about what he plans to say, but only if you still know what facts are. So let’s explore the language around the issue for a bit. Continue reading