Saturday, November 25, 2006

There's an elevator - only takes me down

I see that I am taking longer and longer between entries. Would ideally like to blame something, but now that I am living with a psychologist in training, am not going to resort to 'external factors' for my own non-doings! So... what has been happening in the world of Ingrid and Tom in Belgium. Well, according to Ingrid... I am currently having ambivalent feelings regarding returning home (yes, I know I have another 4,5 years to get used to the idea) but still it terrifies me. Sadly enough, I do look forward to having my own 'piece of Australia'; my own place, with a child or 2, good job etc. but I am scared to death of the insular politics (and dare I say it - people) that await me. I know I have an incredibly accepting and open circle of friends who are more than welcoming to anything/anyone who crosses their path - it's just the other who I worry about. I know before I left, I had more than one person tell me that I didnt need to move here with a foreigner. Yes - bluntly! It wasn't as though I had even provoked such a bold statement. I am petrified as to how Tom will be accepted - I know I have had my problems here, but I can imagine that it is totally different in Australia. Yes, granted I didnt know any Flemish when I first arrived here, and there are racist people here - but something that most Australians cannot predict is the way that ALL Belgians go out of their way to speak English and try to help me speak Dutch here. Can you imagine someone going to Australia, and not speaking a word of English? I think I can safely say that at least 50% of people would not give them a single second of help - not entirely surprising. EVERYONE is expected to know English before they even enter Australia. BUT - send an Aussie to another country - how much do they know of the other language??? Not much, I think! But that's ok - Everyone speaks english. Or so is the attitude we are taught... Why are we not taught to respect others as we wish to be respected??? We are in the end, a multicultural country.

I know it's easy for me to say that in Belgian ALL kids learn French from grade 4, English and German from Grade 8 compulsorily - but they border on these countries/regions: Australia doesn't. And yes, Australia does require kids to learn a 2nd language for a couple of years. But why isnt it encouraged to be bilingual, or at least taught that when you are travelling, to try to speak another language? Why is there such a fear instilled in people when another language is involved? Even French?

The reason for this entry is that I don't look forward to going home to seeing the news on Aussie TV in such a conservative manner. I don't look forward to seeing the war in Israel/Palastine/Lebanon and seeing on the view according to the Americans. I don't want to see why the ex-KGB guy in England was killed according to the Australian media who have been payed by Poutin. I am afraid (and maybe due to my own ignorance) that I will become simple - not because information isn't available in Australia - but because the most important information at home revolves more around people putting out the ANZAC flame and how much a disgrace that is (rather than seeing the comedy...), and how much more difficult it is to access more informative, world news. Sorry if this is insulting to anybody, but need to get the bee out of my bonnet sometimes...

Please mum, and other teachers (who didnt get into uni with an OP of 20) - encourage the kids to be a little more aware. I am afraid of what the culture of Australia will become.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

You're my picture on the wall, you're my vision in the hall

Another relatively uneventful week, apart from discovering the fantastic range of music that Tim left us when he and Tash came in August which we ripped from his mp3 player. Have fallen in love with Belle and Sebastian all over again, and am keen to discover the rest - thanks Tim (by the way, it has been ages since i heard 'Chicken with its head cut off' - forgot it existed!!).

Have managed to get through another week at work (as most people do...), with one slightly embarassing moment: The laboratory building has been undergoing an enormous face-lift for the past 12 months, including a little surgery to the stair-cases requiring use of the lifts for only 1 level (which drives me absolutely crazy). And, to keep us all active, my boss has decided to have rooms on 4 levels (of the 6) of the building. Not always handy, especially when the stair wells are shut. So, on Wednesday, I had remnants of the flu, a shocking period pain, and just wanted to go home, when I boarded the cargo lift for a ride down a whole level when the lift got stuck. Yippee - first time ever. I didnt really know what to do. I tried to force the door with my superpowers, but that didnt quite work, so then I yelled help. Not incredibly helpful (as a tip for you who thought it might be). So, as last option, i pressed the alarm button in the lift - thank god it wasnt a loud fire-alarm sound - but a connection to a telephone to somebody I couldnt understand one single bit. So, just at the moment someone picks up the phone, another guy is on the other side of the lift asking me questions, so I was trying to figure out who was talking to me, and how to answer them both... Then alll the workmen discovered the situation, and I am receiving all sorts of lovely comments through the door in a Limbergse dialect (the farmers and slow-talkers of Belgium (including Kym clijsters) - a bit like the FNQs...). After around a half hour, I felt the lift moving up to the 4th floor (i needed to be on 0) and the doors opened to a group of work-men - thankfully the guy who fixed it was my favourite (a big black guy which a gorgeous smile, and always up for a chat) but when I finally made it back to level 0, all the Limbergers were waiting for me and cheering. Didnt help the period pain or the snot which my head was full of...

Tom has been to the hairdresser today to prepare for his interview on Monday - his friend, Ben and himself passed the first round of the Pappenheimers (a quiz), and now need to have a screen test to see if they're pretty enough for TV on Monday. We are pretty excited!

Anyway, apart from that, sometime this weekend, we are celebrating our 4 years of bliss (cough!) - and the reason I say sometime this weekend, is that most of you probably know, but we dont actually know when we first became an 'item'. We even had to read through his diary from trip around oz, and there was an entry on the 19th of November which mentioned me, but no date as to actually when we hooked up. Oh well! So instead of writing a sappy post for our 4 years, thought I should just do a naked dance instead (more our style).

By the way, hi mum and dad

Monday, November 06, 2006

Allow me to introduce.... Gustje

Although an uneasy name to pronounce in English, here is our new little man. I have given him his first drink today - so he has been cruising around now for 500km quite happily! But that is my extent on knowledge of cars. Fortunately, Tom's bike broke completely the same week we bought Gust, and considering Tom is the sportier of us 2, he has chivalrously opted to take my bike, and I get to play with Gust!!

Thought I might mention, had a great chat to an old buddy (no, she isnt 95 years old, just 26) from school this weekend, and it was dare-I-say-it a little wierd at first. We hadn't talked for at least 5 years, and lots has changed, but it is still nice to chat to someone who has known you for a little longer than a year! Maybe all of my school friends have drifted in totally unparallel directions, and with some, there will be nothing to talk about when I see them again, but with others, it is nice to know that you can always chat! (am I sounding to sappy?!!)

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Always look on the bright side of life

This song was really appropriate for yesterday evening. For the first time we actually went on an away game from my favourite club, Germinal Beerschot. Even Ingrid came! We drove to the far Genk (in Belgian terms). It is actually just more than an hours drive. But it was a mixed game. We were locked up in a bird cage far away in the corner of the stadium. It is sad but immediately there's the feeling of being a group. The pride for your club takes over and you stand there not willing to back down and show these people something. There's an unwritten binding and you have the feeling that this is what soccer is all about. You make yourself out to be more because you are no longer just a supporter. You've progressed to the heavy club of people who stand behind their club in good or bad. You would travel to the end of the world to take part with this small group of nutters who spend all their money on their club. You are what makes the team. On away games you sing louder because your group is more compact but you all stick up for each other. You are not wanted and just that fact makes you want to be their more.

Well that wonderful, exciting, glorious feeling lasted just minutes and then the game was over. We lost with a convincing 4-0 and were slaughtered the first half. (The real supporter uses "we" even in times of great defeat, not just when victorious times approach our history). At the end of the first half the atmosphere became a bit grimy and potentially dangerous. Half time came just in time for a beer and a toilet visit.

You might want to notice that toilet visits are crucial for a football fan. If you do not go to the toilet you will not be updated. Go to any other toilet in the world (as a man) and your only concern is to avoid eye contact and avoid conversation. You just want to step in, flop it out and stare at a blank wall, in the meanwhile keeping up appearances that they should not try to mess with you because you're tough. Not so at the soccer. In the toilet that's where the action is! The full line-up is being analyzed. The coach is being critized, players are being giving ratings. The angry hooligan that has been mocking his team the whole game all of a sudden comes up with the cleanest and most clever analysis of the game. People throw all their anger out in this little room. It is unwritten that you leave insults at the door and listen to other people's opinions because we all have an opinion and we are all equally important. After this refreshing (both mind and body) moment you do NOT wash your hands!!! This classifies you as somebody who feels better than the common football fan (this is the only rule I do not obey, sorry to the real fans). And to top it of, you step out of the room in your most manly position and yell the first Neanderthal thought you can come up with to get the blood running again. Common you wankers!!!! And we're off again.

Lucky for us the second half the mood changed and we started laughing with our own club, yelling slogans like "it is just a practice game", "we're going for champions league" and my favorite " we're playing them nuts". Of course we couldn't escape the monty python brigade and their all-time classic. We left the stadium in good spirits.

It's been a while since I've written. But I am well thanks for asking. I made the best decision of my life going back to uni doing psych. I also do my best not to bother anybody with it because people tend to feel intimidated and investigated by me when I talk about psych. For everybody: I've had psych for 2 months, at this point I couldn't even analyze a turtle if I wanted to. But meeting new people everyday. And yes there are some cute girls but they are all 18 years old and when I look at them, I see somebody even younger than my sister so thinking of them as anything else but classmates seems like something you can be thrown in jail for. My only concern at this moment is getting through my January exams. Ingrid and I had to find our new way of living together a bit but I think we finally found the right balance between doing things together and working for school. Even if this wouldn't work out, I already learned heaps and will never look back on this as a bad decision.

We finally have got easy weekends coming without obligations: winter is on its way so life in Belgium stops. Already wearing gloves, scarf and hat at nights. But we finally can relax a bit and do stuff with the two of us.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

An oldie but a goodie

I know the rest of you probably see this frequently, but I just found it again today and it reminded me of home!