The Studies

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When I decided to return to university ten years ago, I had a plan: I was going to do a BA in English, which would take three years. I was hoping that within those three years, one of the Dutch universities would finally have started offering a Creative Writing MA, which I would then apply to.

At least, I thought that was my plan. It was only in hindsight that I realised that – deep down inside – I had a lot of other expectations: returning to university was going to be THE BEST THING EVER, to the point that it would erase my previous shitty-to-mediocre experiences at university. People were going to discover that I was the greatest structuralism-genius since Foucault and everybody was going to LOVE me. Returning to university and getting my BA degree was going to fix everything that ever went wrong in my life. Deep in my heart, I was completely convinced of this.

Considering that, it’s no wonder that my return to university turned out to be a huge disappointment.

It was only a few years ago that I learned that this type of childlike thinking is quite common for people whose lives haven’t turned out the way they wanted them to. Children who are bullied for example, are powerless to change their situation by themselves, no matter what victim blamers people may claim.

More often than not, they keep themselves alive by telling themselves things like “When I grow up, I’ll show everybody that I can do [something exceptionally awesome]”. Which is understandable, especially when nobody takes you seriously and the constant, soul shattering bullying is dismissed as “It’s just a joke” and you’re told that “You’re also a bit at fault here of course”. Delusions of grandeur are needed to keep your spirits up and keep yourself alive. Literally.

Apart from that, there’s a non-stop stream of success stories everywhere in the media. My return to university coincided with the heyday of hustle culture: as long as you work as hard as possible, preferably all the time, without pause (“You can sleep when you’re dead!”), success is guaranteed.

Sure, you have a bigger chance of becoming successful when you do the work, but there’s no guarantee whatsoever that working yourself to death will lead to guaranteed success. I would say the opposite is true. The sad part is that, rationally, I was well aware of this, but I still felt attracted to this extreme way of thinking like a moth to a flame. It has to do with my need for control and the illusion of a person’s life being completely malleable. The fact that I’m a foreigner and that both my parents were refugees is also a huge factor: being successful within academia is the only way to not disappoint your parents and compensate for the misery endured, basically. This suffocating pressure to succeed is something I’ve felt all my life, and I’ve never known how to deal with it, except for to internalize it.

Fact is that no studies, and definitely not the ones you started at 35 for all the wrong reasons, will make you super happy, mega successful, and loved by all. Life is not a fairy tale, where all your lifelong problems get solved in an instant.

Apart from all this, the particular studies I chose turned out to not be for me. I’ve once described my studies as “speedreading every published issue from Reader’s Digest”, which gives you an idea. Looking back, I should have quit in week four, that would have saved me a lot of money, time, energy, and both mental and physical distress. Unfortunately, I was completely stuck in the “Quitters are losers”-mindset, that my motto “Get a BA or die trying!” almost became a reality.

The only reason that, after my stroke, I eventually wrote my thesis and graduated, was because of the sunk cost fallacy. And the example of the North-South-metro line, which turned to be pretty useful once it was finished after years of delays and exorbitant budget overruns. The fact that I would be able to do an MA was not an incentive to finish my BA, because by the time I graduated, there still wasn’t a Creative Writing MA in The Netherlands, and the long distance MA Creative Writing in the UK that I was going to do, became unaffordable due to BREXIT.

Where I publicly (even on this blog) said socially acceptable things like “I’m going to take a year off to decide on what I’m going to be doing with the rest of my life”, in reality I – of course – already had a plan: I was never going to do anything ever again. Never. Not a damn thing. I felt that I had done enough things in my life, with zero results, so I was just going to quit doing things.

And then the pandemic started.

***

Part two will be posted tomorrow!

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This Month – February

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Read – Online

The Mouse Mansion is leaving the public library (article in Dutch): Na tien jaar verlaat het Muizenhuis de OBA: ‘Mensen zeggen altijd: dáár wil ik wonen’

Internationally renowned journalist Bram van Splunteren, famous for his long form documentaries on alternative bands and culture in the ’80 and ’90 acknowledges that he had a – what he considers to be a – relationship with a subordinate. Proceeds to describe himself in those days as “young, dumb and naive”. DUDE, YOU WERE 36! SHE WAS 18! YOU WERE HER MANAGER. I don’t give a shit about how different times were, this has never been ok. I grew up watching his programs and looked up to him for his interviewing/program making skills, but he’s firmly on my shit list now. (article in Dutch) VPRO trekt eerbetoon aan Bram van Splunteren terug, documaker erkent oude beschuldigingen

France formally recognises endometriosis as ‘long-term condition’ And now the rest of the world, please

Disgusting: Lawsuit Alleges Tesla Segregated Black Workers Into Area Referred to As ‘The Plantation’

A Mega-Rich Silicone Valley Town Says Mountain Lions Make it Immune to Affordable Housing Yeah, but when it comes to their own (house) building activities, it’s usually more like this:

A Dog and Cat Bill of Rights Under Consideration in California

L.A. Homeless Count to Resume After COVID-Related Hiatus

Trevor Noah slams media for racist remarks on Ukraine: War ‘was Europe’s entire thing’ It’s been REALLY jarring to see how things are playing out. Haven’t heard the words “refugee crisis” yet, despite there being more people displaced now than in 2015. But apparently we don’t see it as a crisis when the people suffering are white? War is awful and useless, refugees are refugees and need help, please stop being racist assholes everybody

Listened to – Music

WILLOW, THE ANXIETY, Tyler Cole – Meet Me At Our Spot (Live Performance)

2SAXY – Walk of Fame

[A-ha FR] a-ha Take On Me Live BBC One 09-11-2018

Sting – Fortress Around Your Heart (Option Two)

Pat Benatar – Love Is A Battlefield (Official Music Video)

Marvin Gaye with Tammi Terrell You’re all I need to get by

The HampsterDance Song

Re-Play – Ala Day

Kate Bush – Running Up That Hill – Official Music Video

Listened to – Podcasts

None

Watched – Films and Documentaries

None

Watched – TV and Youtube

Sarah Millican Received An Email From Her School Bully

The Story of “It Wasn’t Me” by Shaggy

The Sting Interview

GYMNASTS TRY ‘CHEERLEADING’ Ft World Champions! | Nile Wilson

This Ring HURTS If She Tries To Take It Off | Jeweler Reacts

Miscellaneous awesomeness

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No tags

This Month – January

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Read – Online

Ronnie Spector, Ronettes Singer and Ultimate Girl-Group Icon, Dead at 78

Magawa, the landmine-sniffing hero rat, dies aged eight

The creator of the viral Black fetus image will have his illustrations published in a book

André Leon Talley, the Pioneering Vogue Editor, Has Died at 73

Segregation by design: “Using historic aerial photography, this ongoing project aims to document the destruction of communities of color due to red-lining, “urban renewal,” and freeway construction”;

Out of spite: Spite house

French Designer Manfred Thierry Mugler Has Died He was beyond influencial to my entire being, starting with the “Boys keep swinging” video by David Bowie in 1979, for which he supplied the mermaid style dress;

The Sketchbook Project is entering a new phase: Update: a letter to our community

Listened to – Music

IOWA – OUR PLACE TO DIE

The Godmother of Drumming Plays “What’s My Age Again?”

Gold – Pentatonix (Kiiara Cover)

Focus – Hocus Pocus Live ’73

Imogen Heap – “Just For Now”

TASH SULTANA – BRAIN FLOWER

John Farnham – You’re the Voice (Official Video)

Hella Sketchy – Demon With A Halo [Official Music Video] (Prod. Lil Medic)

100 gecs – money machine (Official Music Video)

100 gecs – hand crushed by a mallet (Official Audio Stream)

Listened to – Podcasts

None in English.

Watched – Films and Documentaries

None.

Watched – TV and Youtube

Staying at Kyoto’s Completely Private Capsule Hotel | Pocket Hotel Karasuma Gojo Three words: rice vending machine (note: for those who do not know, I am OBSESSED with rice)

What Makes This Song Great? Ep.107 QUEEN (Feat. Brian May)

The Story Of Chicane ‘Saltwater’ | The making of a trance anthem

Rap Roundtable – SNL

3 German Shepherds Review Foods

The Story Of Faithless’ ‘Insomnia’ | The Making Of A Dance Anthem

Consent: easy as tea It’s really not that difficult.

Miscellaneous awesomeness

Lofi Generator Make your own Lofi avatar.

Maru completely controlled the swaying bowl. Maru rules everything around us.

LEGOcats, in case of allergies or if you want more cats than your home will allowd

ODD, a ball that makes beats. Literally.

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