Archive for June, 2009

“Are you gonna bark all day…?”

I never thought I’d see the day where I would have to take this kind of harassment. For nearly a month now, I have been contacted repeatedly and constantly, only to be supplied with beeps, static, noise and meaningless music. Day and night, weeks, months, it has only gotten worse. Let’s sum it up:

  • Scotland. After the first day there, we go to bed (sleeping bag, that is) dead tired and I get a phone call with a hidden caller ID. Answering the phone, I am served about 6 seconds of random beeps. Repeat about 5 times that night, to the point where I, half asleep, tell them through the noise, to please stop calling because they’re not getting through. I happen to know one or two people who keep their number hidden, so I figured it might be one of them, unable to get through the Scotland phone network properly.
  • All through the hike, this phenomenon occurs, except in one case, where the caller shows up as a Dutch phone number: +31. Under the impression that I am dealing with a technical issue, I don’t pay much attention to the number in question. I quickly pick up the habit of refusing the call rather than answering, but am quite surprised to get a connection when my employer calls.
  • Back in Belgium, I get another call before I even make it home. I answer, thinking I will get a freakishly stubborn but happy acquaintance on the line, but instead… same thing. At this point, I am under the impression that someone is indeed trying to spook me, but I can’t think of anyone who would do such a thing.
  • Things calm down at this point. It’s all getting rather vague right now but I think I went days without a call. During this time, the Dutch number is spammed out of the phone’s memory, and mine.
  • A few days ago, the calls pick up to a frenzy, starting with one particular night where I receive no less than 10 calls, building up to about 25 in 24 hours, and yes I did keep count. My colleague answers at one certain point, but the change in voice doesn’t seem to bother the caller: the result is the same. He later describes the sound he heard as “a calm breathing, as if someone is sleeping”. I’m beginning to consider technical failure as an option again. I also now remember the occurrence of the Dutch number again, but I can’t remember what it was and I was willing to accept it the same as the “Unknown” caller.
  • Yesterday, there is another brief but intense period of calls. In between these periods, they still come but at a much lower frequency. At the exact same time, I begin receiving text messages from an unfamiliar Belgian (+32) number. Strangely, they are in English, but clearly not meant for me. Allow me to share:
    • It was perfect. Miss you.
    • Wanna meet again? Derek is home tonight?
    • Playing hard to get or just busy?
  • And another one that I deleted, that said she (assuming it’s a she) would call. Derek is not a Belgian name, suggesting that she is genuinely English speaking, despite her Belgian number. Of course I contact her back repeatedly, trying to get it through to her that she’s got the wrong number. Voicemail is the furthest I get.
    The Dutch number returns as well, with the same result. I remember to save it this time.
    The Belgian number eventually calls, and again I only get noise.

Things have relatively calmed down at this moment. My girlfriend, who was with me yesterday, answered one time and I fell for the trick of them using different numbers, but otherwise I have always refused the calls, costing the caller money.

Recently, I’ve become convinced that this is, in fact, a flesh and blood human trying to impress me. 3 different numbers from different nationalities can’t be a coincidence, not to mention the timing and frequency. But… Today, I’ve begun doubting that once again.
The only thing consistent through all this is the randomness. The messages in my voicemail are different each and every time, and the “caller” succeeds in not letting his voice be heard even one single time. Someone emotionally unstable enough to put himself through this would have fucked up by now, especially when faced with surprises like my colleague or girlfriend picking up. He would have become frustrated by the times I rejected the call, close to a hundred times by now, costing him money each and every single time. The text messages, although they would have been quite effective in tearing my girlfriend and myself apart if things went differently, actually seem genuine in their casual phrasing. She did indeed only call once.

Either this guy is a borderline psychopath, stark raving mad, or a machine. His patience is confusing and his method flawlessly annoying.
This shit is… scaring me. Every time I feel my cell phone vibrate in my pocket, I pray it won’t start that same jingle again, telling me someone is calling me, to see that it’s that same unknown number once more. That faceless, silent threat. I lock my door at night for him and him alone, laying awake in fear of him. Even during quiet periods, I carry the pressure with me. At work, with my friends. I don’t see my girlfriend the same way anymore, because this might be her ex I’m dealing with. I can’t sleep, I can’t eat.
And if you believe any of that shit, you don’t know me very well.

Seriously though. Whatever this little fucker’s goal is, he’s headed in the wrong direction. So far this series of attention-seeking masturbation has lead to nothing but curiosity, mild annoyance, and a running joke among my co-workers. I have to check in the morning just how many times I pushed that same red button because I’ve learned to do it in my sleep.
Annoying? Yes, very.
Frustrating? Scary? Intimidating? Eat shit.

 

 

Yes, I am using marking now to divide subjects. Facebook tends to ignore paragraphs no matter how far I put them apart.

Movie review time! I went over to the DVD store last night and this is what I got.

Hancock

Funny, but surprisingly hardcore. It’s not typical for a Will Smith movie to have the bad guy dismembered and killed with a fire axe. That in itself makes this movie quite awesome.

Yes Man

Surprisingly mature. Yes, it’s still Jim Carrey and I suppose it would still count as a comedy, but the subject is one that shouldn’t be taken lightly, though perhaps that’s just me. I could relate to the theme quite well because I’ve gone through a similar thing a long time ago, where I decided to stop making excuses and grasp opportunities when they come along. And just like Jimmy there, I’ve become quite extreme about this, jumping on whatever presents itself even when it really doesn’t seem like such a good idea– the Scotland hike is the perfect example of this; I still haven’t fully paid back my debts.

The conclusion is an obvious one: Live life to the fullest but keep your decisions rational. I personally take the latter with a grain of salt.
Acting was mediocre at best, and the rest I just didn’t pay attention to. It’s a feel-good movie, that happens to have a very valid point. Glad I saw it.

 

Waltz with Bashir

Since I suck at movie reviews, here’s a guest appearance of Rotten Tomatoes:

Synopsis: One night at a bar, an old friend tells director Ari about a recurring nightmare in which he is chased by 26 vicious dogs. Every night, the same number of beasts. The two men conclude that there’s a connection to their Israeli Army mission in the first Lebanon War of the early eighties. Ari is surprised that he can’t remember a thing anymore about that period of his life. Intrigued by this riddle, he decides to meet and interview old friends and comrades around the world. He needs to discover the truth about that time and about himself. As Ari delves deeper and deeper into the mystery, his memory begins to creep up in surreal images …

Consensus: A wholly innovative, original, and vital history lesson, with pioneering animation, Waltz With Bashir delivers its message about the Middle East in a mesmerizing fashion.

Viewer Review: Complex, challenging and at times difficult to watch, Waltz With Bashir is nevertheless wholly unique, unquestionably powerful and, ultimately, a devastating indictment of war and its effects on its victims and its participants.

So yeah. While my girlfriend had fallen asleep, I stared at the screen with growing eyes. While the movie was animated, the screenplay was so striking that it became strikingly obvious that the movie should not have been made any other way.

The story is made up of a series of memoirs of Ari’s friends and colleagues. Each narrates his own version of the facts, and with each separate story, the pain and terror is driven deeper inside your chest. The stories are told with the most casual of voices, telling a gruesome story while the images, usually made up of no more than two colors, play it out as if there would be any doubt about the sheer goddamn horror these people went through. As if you still want to actually see what you were just told.

Imagine this: A squad leader reports to his superior, who is watching German porn in a “confiscated” mansion. There had been an increasing number of car bomb attacks on border guard posts and there had been reports that it was to happen again that night. A white mercedes was to attack the post that his squad would be stationed at, that night.

“So if you see a white mercedes…”
“…What…? Just shoot?”
“Do I have to explain it to you?”

Imagine how long that night must have been for those boys. Sitting on either side of the road, watching the road at point blank range. And then, an ice cream van shows up. Playing its merry tune, adding to the surrealism of the situation. Whether it was a mercedes had become impossible to make out, but it sure as fuck was a white one.
What would you do? With your finger on the trigger of an MAG, which would tear through the van and anything inside. Let it pass, meters away from you? Shoot and be sure to live? I honestly don’t know.

The blind fear, tragedy and insanity war brings, has rarely been put onto a screen as truthfully as in Waltz with Bashir. Ending with the massacre inside the Palestinian refugee camp that authorities turned a blind eye to, the movie depicts the naked facts as truthfully as they occurred.
Because make no mistake: While the facts may be off, the offered situations are true, word for word. To emphasize this, the movie ends with real footage of the widows and mothers that were left to live, and the men, women and children, that were not.

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Traks

Elections are coming to town, and the whole country will know it. Every single politician has chipped in and are now playing the game that lays at the foundation of a flawed democracy; they are turned against each other and feuds are forged that will last throughout the coming period. Ladies and gentlemen: The pigs who rule this country. The bastards who rule us.

My mailbox has been bombarded with propaganda for the last two weeks, flyers from every major party full of flashy colors and smiling faces. Several from the right-wing party, even. Holding children, walking along the beach while gazing over the horizon willfully, fearlessly. I don’t read them. They go in my trash where they belong, because if they aren’t packed with bulshit lies, then the truth is bent and masked.

In Belgium, voting is mandatory. It’s fucking obnoxious but I don’t mind it all that much, because it allows for moderation. People who, in truth, lack a political opinion will vote for the ”in-between” parties, forming a government where extremes can meet rather than rule.
People died for this right. Women, workers, students, the road to democracy is covered in blood. However, I don’t think it is time for us to pat ourselves on the back and sit on our lazy asses. Because if we do, we end up in a situation like we find ourselves in, today. We’re stuck with a system that is fundamentally flawed, frustrating, and obviously inefficient. Countless “reformations” have occurred but none really changed anything.

I was addressed the other day by a woman active in the left-wing party ‘GROEN!’ [GREEN!] They have been stuck at the very bottom of the ladder ever since they fucked up back in the early 90’s in such a recordbreakingly brisk manner, that they blew their trust for many years to come. In my eyes, they’re naive, and voted for by people who don’t really get what politics are about, and think it a good medium to express their love for kittens- and treefucking.

I hate it when they approach me, because then I have to explain myself all over again.
You see, I don’t vote. I do show up, but I paste a nice red ‘A’ on my paper and file it in. I’ve done that since the very beginning, and my ideals have hardly changed since then. And every time I get the same reaction: “You know you’re giving your vote to the biggest party then, right?”
Wrong. It’s when you vote blank, that it automatically goes to the biggest political party. If you vote invalid, you declare your vote nil. At least, that’s what I’ve been told, and that’s what I tell them. And the fact that they have nothing to say to that, shows that they really don’t have a fucking clue what they’re talking about. They’re just buying whatever they are told and will even swallow what I feed them. But even when I’m wrong, it’s the closest I can stick to my principles without getting fined. I’m so sorry.

You can’t protest the principle of marathon by running it it. In the same way, you can’t question a political system by participating. The fact that I openly admit to all this has sparked many a discussion, and I hope I managed to make a few people take a step back and reconsider. I’ve been called “passive” for this behavior, but I managed to point out that this active protest is far less passive than voting for a party you know too little about.

Things are decided behind our backs. Economical decisions are made without the presence of independent press. Top secret meetings with multinationals are held, deciding the fate of many without their knowing. People are kicked out of their houses by the very government they elected. Do you think they would still vote for those people if they knew? Wouldn’t that be a slightly more honest agenda? “We’ll kick you out of the home you built in favor of a Volvo factory that will be expanding this way rather than the fields on the other side. I suppose you shouldn’t have gotten in the way of them and the freeway. Cheerio. Thanks for your vote.”

An honest, see-through way of ruling our country, is that so much to ask? Isn’t that the core principle of democracy, or is it really still a characteristic of anarchy? Economic, judicial, principal matters agendas should be made perfectly clear. No lies should be told, mingled with truths to make the difference impossible to make out. Voting is the declaration that you are willing to believe everything a party swears to, including the promises they have already broken in the past and the details that every single elected government immediately forgot about as soon as they were given the power.

I tried to explain this to that woman, and she immediately went, “Not with GROEN! of course!”
She was lucky to be my friend’s mother or my immediate response would have been about how misguided she was. She couldn’t even properly lecture me about the principle of voting, let alone the agenda of her party that she obviously never seriously reconsidered. So I stuck to the fact that in today’s economical environment, taking it as an example, it’s simply not possible to alter the fundamental principles of Belgium’s politics by stepping into them. I didn’t know what the fuck I was talking about, but she bought every single word. Flawed reasoning 101: Fight fire with fire.

Until a black flag party steps forward with the promise to rebuild our ruling system from the ground up, and show themselves crystal clear in their intentions, I am not voting. I rather cast my vote than give it to a party, any party, that bases itself on the web of lies over our heads.

 

 

I am dancing through life. There is a Kylie Minogue tune drifting between my ears and I’m walking on, sporting the most fucked up, careless two-step dance moves.

I wouldn’t be me if that didn’t worry me to no end. Don’t get me wrong though, I am enjoying every moment, every step. Every time I walk the city with friends or family, I catch myself thinking, “This is the life.” No worries on my mind, company I enjoy, and the freedom to choose otherwise on almost every subject.

This in itself is only positive, but what strikes me most is the black and white contrast between me, about a month ago. I remember that night vividly, where I couldn’t sleep and the walls came down on me. I could have screamed in frustration after I failed to compose my thoughts for the hundredth time in mere seconds, my cell phone in hand with my ex’ number on it.
I didn’t call. I calmed down on my own and eventually fell asleep. And I remember the words very clearly, the only solid thought to hang on to: “Let’s just get to Scotland, and see from there.” At the time, I was far from certain that I would ever even make it there.

And then the Americans came, and the world blossomed like a flower. What happened there? Did I lose my mind? Circumstances were hardly different, but my view on them couldn’t have been less so. And now things are physically changing for the better, I’m running out of pockets to stuff my happiness in. I wish I could save some for later, because inevitably times will come when I’ll need to fall back on it again. But I can’t, so… despite my concerns, I go with the flow.

I didn’t want to admit it before, but I suppose it’s official now. Maarten has a girlfriend, and satan is investing in fleece. My sister hit the nail on the head when she remarked, "She’s beautiful. You’re lucky, you know that. Someone with an ugly face like yours usually doesn’t get this lucky.” Yeah, we get along quite well.
My sister is honest to a fault, and in this particular case I just nodded and mumbled, “I couldn’t have put it better, myself.” Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate or even dislike myself. I have my moments and looking in the mirror, I don’t think my face is that ugly at all.
But she likes me. How cute is that? And once again, I have to shut down that constant nagging feeling and shrug it off, so I can concentrate on enjoying her presence and finding openings in her defense to pin her. I still owe her a bruise or two.

In other words, this is the last you’ll hear of these doubts. After 24 years, I am above that kind of thought. As much as I consider everything to have a positive and negative side, I can ignore either and focus on the other. Everyone can, but I do it consciously, which makes it much easier to ban several kinds of destructive thought patterns (self hate, hate towards mankind, failure to accept reality as we perceive it and so on) and willingly enjoy life.
Of course I have my dark moments, like everyone does. But I can usually reason my way out of them and now…
I have someone to share them with.

 

 

Rebirth never goes without death. Depending on how much you want to live, you have to kill things you rather wouldn’t. It doesn’t mean you give up on them, it just means you want them redefined.

You were a dear friend and tutor, I will miss you in ways I have never missed anyone else.
We’ll talk, but not soon. I wish you would follow my advice, for once.

 

 

I went back and thoroughly edited an earlier post. At the time, I considered the second half not only inappropriate, but too honest for my own good. In short, I chickened out.
http://verminsnest.spaces.live.com/blog/cns!3C6FD74AD17AB9C9!767.entry
If you are concerned at all, you may like the change.