Another Rant

I had another post planned, but this pisses me off every 5 years, so here it goes. Within the next year, I’ll have to renew two official documents; my passport and my driver’s license. The driver’s license is pretty straightforward for being in the EU – since I’m from an EU country, and live in (another) EU country, I have to exchange my expiring one for one from the country I live in. This bureaucratic little exercise can even be completed in evenings, as long as I make an appointment in good enough time, and will cost me something like € 40.

Then there’s the passport. I sigh just typing this.
If you live in Sweden and have to renew yours, all you need is a valid ID and a “birth certificate” (not really, but our equivalent), and you’re all set. It’ll cost € 35 and be ready in around a week.

When I have to do this, however, there are 2 alternatives: going to the embassy or applying while in Sweden on vacation. Obviously, the embassy REALLY REALLY REALLY don’t want you to do it there:

Screen Shot 2017-06-17 at 16.05.18

Just to recap this – the passport that costs € 35 in Sweden, is € 141 here. That’s a € 100 markup. They even put on their website that “you can apply while in Sweden, and then have it sent here to be picked up once it’s ready for € 15”.

I honestly don’t know anything that encapsulates the Swedish passive aggression more than this. Don’t take the discussion/conflict, just make sure people won’t bother you by charging them ridiculous amounts. Thanks, Swedish Embassy. Really.

The social awkwardness

I have a draft for a post where I talk about my own social anxieties. We’ll see when that one appears, but for now I can say this:

I have a job interview today. Right now my internal voice goes like this “hopetheycancel, hopetheycancel, hopetheycancel”. What a relief it would be.

It also doesn’t help that my Fitbit went crazy last night and kept waking me up with random vibrations all through the night (until I had the sense to leave it in the bathroom where I wouldn’t hear/feel it).

Old or snob?

Our local grocery store has been closed for reconstruction since April 28th. I can’t even begin to explain how frustrating this has been, or how excited I am that they are opening again TOMORROW. (Look, we don’t have a car, and the second closest store is a 10 min bike ride away. Have you ever tried doing weekly shopping by bike? I have…)

While they were closed, we still needed some things, so I buckled up and faced Lidl. Several of my colleagues have been promoting them heavily, so I thought I’d give them a fair chance.

So… Nope. Look, I don’t care how cheap their vegetables are (and let’s not get started on the meat, like I’d ever eat that antibiotic-heavy German stuff?), but it looks like an outlet warehouse. The lines are super long and the tiny space for groceries after the cashier forces you to IMMEDIATELY pack the stuff up. I dislike shopping for groceries already, and if I had to do it at Lidl I’d start hating it.

Give me back my overpriced Albert Heijn store, thank you very much.

And yes, I know I’m in a privileged position where I can choose. All frustration and pain is relative, I guess?

Smash It Up

The Dutch showed some sense in the elections in March, where the wild clown (Wilders) lost a seat in the parliament. This past weekend my nerves were twitching again since it was time for the French elections, which boiled down to crazy right wing versus crazy banker. Say what you will about capitalism, I will personally choose it before xenophobia any day, but I wasn’t sure how the French felt about it.

The relief (or in the words of the New Yorker’s Andy Borowitz – “On Sunday, the people of France annoyingly retained their traditional right to claim intellectual superiority over Americans“). (It’s a very short satire column, just read it.)

The Ridiculousness of Dutch Names

In Sweden, we have a lot of “son” names (Most common last names: #1 – Johansson, #2 – Andersson, #3 – Karlsson*). This is obviously remnants from the patronymic days, examples of which you can still see in action in Iceland. In addition to this, I’d say (this is based on experience, I have no empirical proof of it) a lot of names are related to nature. There are all kinds of trees, streams, mountains, hills, twigs, branches (and on and on).

Just to give you a feeling, these names all start with “Birch”:

Björk (Birch)
Björkegren (Birch branch)
Björkgren (Birch branch)
Björklund (Birch grove)
Björkman (Birch man)
Björkqvist (Birch twig)
Björkström (Birch stream)

And that’s how it goes. That is my normal.
Then I moved to the Netherlands, and my normal is being challenged EVERY DAY.

While my partner, like myself, has a slightly odd – but still reasonably acceptable – last name, we have friends with names like Bloemen (Flowers), de Groot (the great/big), de Koning (the King), de Boer (the Farmer), Klein (little), van den Heuvel (from the hill) (etc.). That I could learn to live with, but then comes the ridiculousness that is Dutch last names. These are actual last names, of actual people:

Suijkerbuijk (sugar belly)
Pannenkoek (pancake)
Naaktgeboren (born naked)
Spring in t veld (jump in the field)
Vroegindeweij (early in the meadow)
Rotmensen (dreadful/degenerate people)

Discussing this at work and home, the Dutchies in my life go “what? these are normal names, I don’t understand why you think it’s weird”.
I can’t even…

* Source

There are more examples of this here and here.

Cirque du Soleil

When my partner left his previous job, one of the gifts he got was tickets to see Cirque du Soleil (Varekai) in Amsterdam. Yesterday was the day, and we braved public transport without trains (they’re doing maintenance and there won’t be any trains past where we live until Wednesday…).

Neither of us had any idea of what to expect, I only knew I’d heard it called “nycirkus” (“New circus”). If asked to describe it afterwards, I’d say it’s a mix of dancing, acrobatics and circus, which was surprisingly nice. At times there were so much going on on stage that I had no idea who to watch, but that’s alright.

The woman sitting next to us was complaining the whole first act and left in the break, so that’ll show you that opinions differ. We were seated pretty far from the stage, and I think if you’re to go it’s worth splurging on tickets closer to the stage (and risk being approached by the clowns), so that you can see a bit more of facial expressions and all that. It was certainly an experience I enjoyed. I don’t think you should “prepare” too much before seeing them, so here is the small promotional video I found that does indeed not say too much…