Fake people

Our washing machine broke the other day. These things happen. Sadly enough, my dad’s girlfriend can’t deal with change at all. Her and my dad are both intellectually impaired. I’m not sure if she’s ever gotten an official diagnosis. I know my dad hasn’t, even though all the signs are there. I know I shouldn’t be using the term for people who haven’t had an official diagnosis, but it helps me deal with things and cope with their behaviour towards me, because please believe me when I say that living with two people who function at such a low intellectual level can be extremely complicated and frustrating.

So our washing machine broke. Big deal right? You go to a store, buy a new one and in a few days’ time the problem is resolved. Sure, you might have some laundry that needs to wait a while before it can get done, but these things happen, right? Not in this household. In this household something simple like a washing machine that breaks down is cause for panic and what’s more, it’s a good reason to go behind my back and talk shit about me.

On Wednesdays I change my bed linens. It’s just the day I’ve picked out to do that particular chore. So last Wednesday, the day before our washing machine decided to cross the soapy seas, I changed my bed linens and put them in our laundry basket, with the intention of washing them the next day. Sadly, that didn’t get to happen, but apparently, the sheer fact that I put those sheets in there is something to get worked up about. At least, it is for dad’s girlfriend. All day today she’s been complaining about the fact that she’d only just washed some of my sheets (I never asked her to, I’m used to doing it myself and I actually feel very uncomfortable about someone else doing my laundry for me), and now there were new ones in the laundry already. In fact, these weren’t “new” ones. She had just washed one of the sheets that I’d put in the laundry basket last Wednesday, not all of them, so there were still some in there. How dare I, when I knew we didn’t have a washing machine?! The rant went on: “the entire laundry basket was filled with her sheets and towels. There was nothing in there of ours.” Well yes, sheets tend to take up a lot of space and I bathe regularly, so there’s gonna be some towels in there indeed.

Basically, my dad and her had the idea that they might do some laundry over at a relative’s house. Apparently it was a huge issue that there was some of my stuff in there and apparently it was also too difficult to ask me if said stuff needed to be washed right away. It’s such a small and insignificant thing and it’s been blown way out of proportion. To other people, who live in a normal household, where people are actually capable of communicating normally with one another, this will probably sound so unreal. It’s difficult to imagine what it’s like when you can’t have a decent conversation, because the other people simply won’t understand. Not because they don’t want to, but because they literally can’t. I could go up to her right now and ask her why she didn’t just ask me if that particular bit of laundry needed washing. She won’t understand. It’s in the basket, so of course it needs washing. If it didn’t, I shouldn’t have put it in there in the first place. Whatever I do or say, it’ll always end up being my fault anyway. It’s like they decide that it’s your fault, so whatever you do or say doesn’t really make a difference anymore and it hurts, you know. It hurts because I’m alone in this, even though I wouldn’t wish this type of living arrangements upon my worst enemies. Everyone needs a safe space to live in, but I don’t have that. Every day is a struggle to get through, not because of how I’m feeling, emotionally, but because of what these two people might do to how I’m feeling, emotionally. You’re always on guard, always on edge, and it wears you out.

Braces and jaw surgery

I’m currently 2.5 months in, in my braces journey and already the change I’m seeing is enormous. My front teeth used to stick out so much and that has already gone down a ton, and even though they aren’t quite where they should be yet, the fact that it’s nowhere near as extreme as it once was, has made a huge difference for my self-confidence. I smile more and I no longer feel ashamed of my smile. Granted, there are some discomforts associated with having braces, such as getting food stuck between them all the bloody time and not being allowed to eat certain foods and drink certain drinks. Anything fizzy is off-limits, which can be frustrating at times when you realise that fizzy drinks are considered so normal nowadays that people actually find it strange that you’d prefer water over a fizzy beverage. I honestly don’t mind that much though. I can still eat most things and fizzy drinks aren’t exactly good for your health anyway, so should I really miss them?

Last year I changed dentists and pretty much the first thing that I mentioned to my new dentist was that I wanted to get something done about my overbite, because it made me feel incredibly insecure and made biting into certain foods absolute hell. I couldn’t eat an apple, for example, if I didn’t cut it into small pieces before eating it. Eating any kind of sandwich where the bread wasn’t super soft and you would have to use a little bit of force when biting into it was pretty much impossible for me as well, unless I nigh dislocated my bottom jaw, which is also pretty unpleasant, and probably isn’t the best thing for your joints either. At times my jaw would tense up so much that I couldn’t put my teeth on top of each other (this still happens, as the problem with my jaw hasn’t been surgically corrected yet) and I bite into my palate with my bottom teeth, which is especially bad news, because if you don’t get that fixed it can cause you to bite your teeth out of your upper jaw over time. No bueno.

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©Wikimedia.

During this time I also discovered that I have root resorption in the root of one of my front teeth. I had an accident as a child where that particular tooth got knocked out and usually, when they put it back in it heals up nicely and won’t give you any trouble, especially when you’re as young as I was when it happened. However, I’m one of the unlucky few who do get trouble down the line. Root resorption basically means that my body is ‘eating up’ the root of that tooth, causing it to fall out eventually. This sucks especially because it’s a front tooth, so you can’t not replace it, because a) people are dicks and they will judge you without knowing the full story and b) after going through bloody braces and jaw surgery I do want to look nice and have a perfect smile, not have a big ol’ gap where that front tooth used to be. Time to save up for a nice dental implant, to get that sorted as well.

I seriously have the nicest orthodontist and jaw surgeon though. They’re both very understanding people, because honestly, all of this terrifies me. It’s quite a lot to take in, from thinking that braces will fix everything to finding out you’ll need jaw surgery on top of having braces to fix the issues with the alignment of your teeth and then needing to get a dental implant afterwards, because there’s some more issues you were unaware of (and couldn’t be aware of, because you don’t have x-ray vision).

What I’ll be getting done in the future:

  1. Jaw surgery on my lower jaw.
  2. Getting a dental implant once I’ve had my surgery and my braces have come off.

The pumpkin coven review

In my search for some fun jewellery choices, I came across an Etsy shop called ‘The Pumpkin Coven,’ which sounded just spooky enough to suit my tastes and it did. It’s a UK based shop and they sell the most amazing things to really add that little bit extra to any outfit. I got four items from them: two regular necklaces and two chokers. As you will be able to tell soon enough, my purchase was a bit moon-themed.

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The first thing I got was this necklace with a crescent moon pendant. I like that it has a very clean look, which makes it a very versatile piece, that I can wear with a multitude of different outfits.

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The next item is a variation on the above necklace. It’s pretty much the same idea, but with a bat added onto the moon pendant.

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This next item is actually the one that I was most excited about, because it was called the “mina” choker, and it features a bat on a black velvet choker necklace. Mina is a character from the novel Dracula, so I’m really liking the reference with the name and the bat!

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Last, but not least, I got this choker with a moon pendant. I think this will go with so many different outfits, and it’s just super cute!

Overall, my shopping experience was very pleasant and all of the items are decent quality for what you pay, so I’m very pleased!

Amazing Dutch words that you should know too

Amazing Dutch words that you should know too

As you may or may not have noticed by now, I’m Dutch. Being Dutch comes with its advantages, such as speaking the Dutch language (Nederlands), being able to eat stroopwafels whenever I want to, and having insane bicycling skills. If you don’t know what stroopwafels are, google them, now!

I’m sure you’ll agree with me that your native language contains some words that you like more than others and today I’m sharing some of my favourite words from my native language, Dutch, with you guys.

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© Steve A Johnson on Flickr
  1. Gezellig. This word is used to describe social events. When you’ve visited your friend for example and you conclude that the night was “gezellig,” that means that you had a lovely time. This is one of those words that has no translation in other languages (which I think is kind of fancy), but I think what I just said about having had a lovely/nice time is a good estimate.
  2. Bibliotheek. Library. I like the sound of this word and I like its meaning. I absolutely love reading, so any place that contains a lot of books will get my love immediately. Fun fact, a lot of Dutch people shorten this word to: bieb, when talking about the library. In the same way, books that you borrow from the library are often referred to as biebboeken. Boeken being books, and adding bieb to the word alters the meaning to books from the library, or library books.
  3. Nijlpaard, and any other animal names that have hilarious translations into English. A nijlpaard is a Hippo, but what it literally says is “Nile horse.” A few other examples are Luipaard, leopard, which literally translates as lazy horse, and naaktslak, slug, which literally translates as nude snail.
  4. Desalniettemin. Anyhow/despite x. It’s mainly the way this word sounds that I like about it. It’s such a fancy way of negating something.
  5. Druppen. To drip. I mainly like this word because it’s an onomatopoeia, a word that sounds like the thing it refers to. On a side note, I also really like the Dutch word for onomatopoeia, which is onomatopee.
  6. Uitwaaien. This is another one of those words that don’t have a translation into other languages. This is a verb and what it denotes is going outside, to the beach for example, and taking a stroll and clearing your head.

Do you have any favourite words in your native language? If so, let me know in the comments below!

5 things I did not expect when getting braces

Almost a year ago now, I made the decision to finally get something done about my teeth. I consulted with my dentist and she referred me to an orthodontist. Getting the x-rays done and having a cast of my teeth made was the easy part. After those were made, my orthodontist came up with a treatment plan, which also involves jaw surgery. I was prepared for that though. I am very aware of what I look like and what my teeth look like, so I already figured that the overbite that I have could possibly not be corrected with braces alone. This also meant that having braces would be a medical necessity, meaning that my insurance would possibly be willing to cover them (usually, braces aren’t covered by your insurance in The Netherlands when you’re an adult). And so the waiting game began. I eventually received a go ahead from my insurance agency in February and last month, I finally got my braces!

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©Wikimedia

I’m one of those people who are rather terrified of anything having to do with their teeth, going to the dentist, and so on, so naturally, I did quite a bit of research on having braces and what the experience would be like. However, there are still some things that I did not expect to happen.

  1. Smiling. I used to try to avoid smiling with my mouth open as much as I could, because I was so ashamed of my teeth. I’ve only had them for a month, so no dramatic change has occurred yet, but already I’m feeling so much more comfortable smiling around people. At least now it’s visible that something is being done about the situation in my mouth.
  2. The pain. I didn’t really know what to expect in terms of pain, because everybody is different and I read quite a variety of experiences online, from people experiencing so much pain that they had to vomit, to people who said it was unpleasant, but totally do-able. Personally, I expected the pain to be constant during the first few days. Instead, what I experienced was that during the first 24 hours of having braces, one tooth at a time became really sore and achy, which would last for a while, and then another one would become sore, etc. After that it was mostly chewing that was quite painful. When I wasn’t chewing on anything the braces weren’t really noticeable. I’m not sure if I got lucky with that, or if this is the average experience though.
  3. Getting stuff stuck between your braces. All. The. Time. I knew I would get stuff stuck in there, but little did I know that it was going to be a constant thing. I have never brushed my teeth so often and with so much pleasure in my life.
  4. People rarely notice them. When I first got them, I felt like I had this huge sign on my forehead, reading “look people, I’ve got braces,” but in reality, people rarely notice them and if they do, they don’t act weird about it.
  5. Having trouble articulating. I talked about this with my orthodontist beforehand, and he actually told me that my braces shouldn’t affect my ability to speak clearly, because they’re on the outside of your teeth, nowhere near where your tongue touches your teeth to make some types of sounds. However, your lips also play a big part in speaking and due to having braces I found myself having less room to move my lips around all of a sudden, so during the first few days I found myself having to struggle to make myself understood at times. Even now, I still have to say things two or three times every now and again, where I never had any trouble articulating before.

These were the five things that surprised me about having braces. Did you have braces? And if so, what was your experience like? I would love to read about everyone’s experiences in the comments below.

Being an intern.

I’ve been a very bad blogger. Life has just been very stressful for me, for the past month to month and a half and I feel like I should talk about that, even if it’s for the small chance that someone in a position similar to mine will read this and will take courage from my experience.

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©Towajo

How it all began

Before I started studying at a proper university, I spent two years studying social work (in The Netherlands this isn’t an academic degree, so you go to what is internationally known as a ‘university of applied sciences’). Those two years were probably some of the most difficult years of my life. Not many people know this, but I was forced by my relatives to pursue a career that didn’t suit me. They didn’t want me to go to a university and to pursue an academic degree and at the time when I had to make that decision, I was very vulnerable, emotionally. My mother had just passed on, several months earlier, and soon after her death my relationship with my then-boyfriend started to deteriorate, because I was a mess and I was just a nasty person to be around. I was in so much pain, emotionally, and I took part of it out on him, so I definitely don’t blame him for leaving, but it was hard at the time. It was hard for all of us and my relatives took advantage of that. They started whispering in my ear that I wasn’t good enough to go to a proper university and get a degree, that I would never be able to finish such a difficult and demanding education. The final blow came when my dad told me that he wasn’t going to support me financially, in any way, shape or form, if I were to study at a university. So I didn’t.

I enrolled for a bachelor’s degree in social work instead and it was probably the biggest mistake I made in my entire life, because I didn’t listen to my own gut feeling, which was screaming at its loudest volume that I shouldn’t be doing this. Sure enough, I hated it. I hated everything of it, but still I kept going, because the idea that ‘there were no other options’ had gotten a very prominent place in my mind. I finished the first year and even managed to get an internship, for my second year. That’s when all hell broke loose.

Liars and cheaters

The people I had to work with on a daily basis had quickly decided that they didn’t like me, so whenever I asked for their feedback, they would lie to me and tell me that everything went fine and that they didn’t have any tips for me to work on. So for the first couple of weeks, I felt fantastic, because these people told me I was doing great. Then came the day of my first evaluation… and it turned out that all of those colleagues who had told me to my face that I was doing great, had been telling my mentor that I was doing a horrible job. From that point on, the situation just escalated. One colleague in particular was just out to get me. At first, I thought that I might be overreacting, so, being the person that I am, I still decided to ask her for her help when a situation arose that I felt I needed some feedback on. I opened up to her and instead of her respecting the fact that I chose to open up and be vulnerable, she grabbed that opportunity to become verbally abusive. Luckily, this happened at the end of my shift, so after she was done I was able to grab my things and leave. I cried on the way home. My shift ended at 10PM and at 2AM I was still upset and crying. That’s how bad it was. I still have mixed feelings regarding that incident, because that colleague definitely did not have the right to behave in the way that she did towards me, but it did open up my eyes and make me realize that this wasn’t the right place for me.

My strength has never been that I’m super assertive and that I’m able to talk to anyone, just like that. I’m awkward and shy and I hate new situations. I’m a creature of habit. New situations, especially social ones, freak me out and here I was, trying to pursue a career which involved all of those things, on a daily basis. It was a recipe for disaster. I decided to quit studying social work and to go to a proper university, to get my bachelor’s degree in cultural studies. Going to uni was like coming home to me. I quickly befriended several classmates and I developed some good relationships with several of my teachers, who stimulated me to really push myself, to work hard and to get good grades and I did. I excelled.

This is who I am, what my strength is and what I want to do with my life.

Turning my life around

When I enrolled at uni, I told people in my environment that the sensible thing to do was to become a teacher in Dutch, through a special programme that the university offers. The job opportunities are great and I would have a good chance of quickly being able to find a job and to start paying off my student debts, which would be considerable by the time that I was finished. However, as time went on, I learned that what I really wanted to do in my future was to get my ph.d. and to pursue a degree in academia. Spending my time doing research in an area that I’m passionate about (Dutch literature) just felt right. It still does. This is who I am, what my strength is and what I want to do with my life. Yet, here I am, stuck at another internship that I don’t particularly enjoy, because the people in my environment have started to expect of me that I’ll become a teacher and I feel like I should meet their expectations.

Every day that I spend at my internship, instead of spending it working on my bachelor’s thesis, just feels wrong

This time around, my mentors and colleagues are wonderful. I couldn’t have wished for a better environment to be an intern in, except… that I don’t want to be an intern. You have no idea how draining it is, physically and emotionally, to finally have figured out what you want to do in life, only to then go on and pretend that ‘of course I want to be a teacher’ and ‘of course I’m having a good time at my internship,’ when the reality is that I don’t. Every day that I spend at my internship, instead of spending it working on my bachelor’s thesis, just feels wrong. I need to be graduating this summer and I should be spending so much more time on writing up my thesis and doing what is necessary (and going way beyond that, because I always do) to get the job done. I’m seriously worried that I won’t be finished in time and I cannot afford (literally, financially) to take even more time to finish my bachelor’s degree. If that happens, say I don’t graduate this summer, but in January or February of 2018, that means that I won’t be able to pay for my master’s degree. Whereas, if I felt like I should still get my qualifications as a teacher after I’ve gotten my master’s degree, I could enroll in the post-master’s programme and get funding from the government (Dutch is one of the subjects for which there are waaaaaaay too little teachers in these parts, so the government is trying to make it more attractive for people to become a teacher by helping you with the financial aspect of it all).

What I’m trying to say, in so many words, is that you should always stay true to yourself, even if that’s a super scary thing to do. You do you, because to me, that’s the only way that you can really be happy.

New year’s resolutions

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©Wikimedia

Happy new year everyone! Hopefully you all had a wonderful new year’s eve and have started 2017 in the most amazing way possible. With a new year always come new year’s resolutions. Personally, I don’t really do new year’s resolutions. I think change can come about whenever you want it to. However,  I do have some goals that I want to achieve this year and that I want to share with all of you.

  • First of all, I would love to take up running more actively. Last year was insanely busy and while that’s no excuse for failing to exercise, I do feel like that was holding me back a lot. I’m expecting this year (the first 8 months of it at least) to be a lot calmer, so I can invest some time in building up some stamina and being able to run at least 5km.
  • I also want to start taking pictures with my DSLR more often. I really enjoy being creative and capturing images with my camera, but I also get “camera shy” quite often. If there’s a lot of people around in an area where I would like to take pictures, I usually end up just leaving the camera in its bag and going away, because I’m afraid I’ll be judged. I feel like it’s time to overcome that fear and just snap away without caring about what other people might or might not think.
  • One of the most important goals for this year is probably getting my bachelor’s degree in cultural studies and (hopefully) being accepted into a Dutch language and culture research master’s programme!

Do you guys have any new year’s resolutions or goals for the new year?