Tales From a Former Yuppie

I’ve been wanting to write about how good I feel lately, I just haven’t been that inspired. For some reason, it’s easier to write when I am sad, maybe cause it’s a desperate call for attention. And when I’m happy I’m in no need of attention, or not as much, anyway. But God, it’s a beautiful day, it’s sunny and I’m sitting next to a lake. You should see this place, everything’s still so green, ducks seem to be having a blast in the water. There was a dog a few minutes away just staring at me. I’ve come to realize how much I miss my dog Johnny. I’m pretty sure he misses me too. But he cannot tell anyone, he can only bark at the garbage truck. I hope he’s having his regular walks and bones after the Sunday’s barbecues and an overall good time at our patio.

I’ve been having a hard time focusing on my readings and my work, but I’m pretty sure I’ll catch up by the time of the exams, which is just a couple of weeks away. I don’t really feel worried, or pressured. Not today. It’s a sunny Sunday and I’m listening to The Shins.

It’s one of those “it’s all going to be alright” moments. Though I feel so sad about the news, especially about the war in Syria. It’s just so fucked up how the media outlets will just blatantly lie about the role of the U.S. and U.K. and Russia in the conflict and their intentions. It makes me really sad to witness so much suffering for the sake of money and power. I think Heidegger was right in some ways, we’re born in the world and get raised with this idea that we have to possess material stuff, that what we possess makes us better, stronger, worthy. And we take the resources of the Earth, up to the point of depleting them, we step on each other, and it all unfolds so quickly without us taking a breath and just stop and think how stupid it really is. I wonder if these huge guys in politics and world banks and military feel so compelled by nature and just so complete when they sit in front of a lake.

I don’t think it’s our fate to be in a permanent state of conflict for the sake of getting resources, though. I don’t think it’s our fate. I’m positive there’s a better way humanity can move forward. And to be here on the other side of the planet, trying to figure out how we can do it, makes me feel so happy.

I remember how frustrated I used to be… getting up to work every day, sitting at a desk, holding meetings with people who were just thinking of what they were going to do when they were off the office. To get home so tired and just lay on the couch and think of doing something different, something important, meaningful. And God, to be pushed to read philosophy and write your thoughts, this whole pushing someone to think by himself. Teachers are really amazing people, they really engage which each one of us and feel so excited when we participate. I like to believe they expect us to do something important. And I love the fact that my classmates are all so crazy to be studying a Philosophy master in the 21st century. Everything’s evolving and I’m starting to feel cozy and surrounded with great people with good intentions. To remember how much I really wanted to have this, and now I have it. I’m so grateful.

I’m completely broke. I really am, I’m counting every cent at the market, picking the cheaper bread. The fancy days of buying expensive dinner and all-inclusive hotels in Cancun are completely over. I haven’t had a fancy dinner in two months now, but I don’t really need them. Once I disposed of all luxury for the sake of being here I realized how much I don’t need it. Feeling grateful for your life in front of a lake while you write a blog post is completely free of charge.

I don’t know if I will ever be able to stop a war, to raise consciousness about anything, to save any lives, to save the planet. It sounds delusional, to be honest. But to want it so hard that you set the gears and every piece of your life towards it, just to know that you’re actively pursuing this one goal, is enough to make me feel so happy. It’s either that or the shot of Vitamin D I just got from sitting here under the sun.

SunnySunday

A better thought on people (and myself)

I’m totally ashamed by my last post. What an asshole to think I’d be able to reduce my social interactions in the last month in a 3-paragraph post and a shitty picture of my room. I’m writing this post (a really long one) to make it up for that last one.

Heres’ the deal. Every time I make a new friend, it kinda tells me a little bit more about myself, and it feels like I’m in need of that right now. Before I came here, I had a pretty solid image of who I was, or thought I was. And now, between the days without eating, excessive drinking, late night studying and constant exposure to everybody’s existentialist ideas, that image is starting to slowly fade away. Is that a bad thing? I don’t know. I don’t think so, to be honest. I’m not done creating myself. It’d be very stupid to think you can stop reinventing yourself at 25. I sometimes feel that’s what Donald Trump did, but whatever.

So, even though I should be writing an essay about the SCOT methodology (sociologists’ mumbo-jumbo, pay no attention) I will actually devote some time to divide my latest social interactions in two main groups and I will explain how that has taught me something about my self.

Group #1. The guys I see every day, every time. The people I live with. The majority of them are german and are studying something related to art. (that is, visual or plastic arts). They’re much more visually creative than me, and they’ve managed to build up a pretty colorful and alternative house. Their paintings and drawings are everywhere! And should I mention we live in what used to be a night club? That means there’s literally a bar next to the living room. And we take it a little bit serious. Beer is one of the house commodities, so we have to make sure there’s always beer in the house. We have a system, which of course includes dish soap, oil, napkins, etcetera, I’m still trying to get my head around it. These guys are part of the underground art scene of my current town, they help organize the best underground electronic/hardcore/techno parties, and contrary to my previous belief, German people are actually super friendly. Though it would be fair to mention that sometimes they forget I don’t speak German and I cannot understand a word when they’re speaking to each other. To be honest, I feel sort of like a loser. I do. I get home so late from being at the Uni all day and I’ll go straight to my room to keep reading while they’re watching German Talk Shows or just plain drinking and having a good time. They must think I’m a nerd, and I’m starting to realize I might be one. It doesn’t feel that bad when you realize it’s the only way to achieve the kind of life you want to achieve, but sometimes I’ll forget about it, come home, and feel like the loser. On one hand is nice to have some distraction at home and realize party is just outside my room’s door.

Group #2: My classmates. They are VERY smart, and I’m still a little bit afraid of speaking my mind, not only at class. They have such different backgrounds and some of them will refer, multiple times during a discussion, to books they’ve read in their life and I’m just trying to deal with the fact that I’m the worst and less disciplined reader of the whole class. My thoughts and opinions are not garbage though, and these things we’re discussing in a “sociological approach to science” class, I don’t agree with it. They have this theory(?) or programme that says all scientific knowledge is just a social construct. And just is the word here, because I don’t mind wrapping my head around the idea that there are some social components that can influence some of the interpretation of the scientific evidence, but, and I’ve said this to them many, many times: a physical law, is a physical law. And I’ve been engaging in a lot of discussions with friends, who are, of course, sociologists. I will not address every point of our discussion, I believe that deserves a post on its own, but my point now is they must see me as this square-head, narrow-minded engineer. I just explained to them the Pi tattoo is in my arm because I truly believe math is the language of the universe (shout out to Galileo). And I want a second tattoo of the cosmological model of the origin of the universe, Lambda Cold Dark Matter, which of course is the scientific approach to explain the universe and its origin with Physics. I’m not narrow-minded, I just think you should accept scientific knowledge as the objective truth of what can be observed in nature.

And this last thing going on in my mind has really started to make me wonder if I’m in the right master programme. I wonder if all of this parts from the idea that science is a social construct. The impact has been that strong. And I think that, after all, I’m not interested in staying in the lab, or computing complex theories as theoretical physicists do. I’m also not interested in designing rocket ships, I just want people to take science as their source of objective knowledge to draw public policies with it. Going to a philosophy/sociology inclined programme seemed like the right way to go. Who knows if I’m in the right place, but I’m holding my ground.

Scientific Knowledge = Objective Truth of Observable Universe =
Foundation for Global Policies  

Do you have a better idea of who I am because of this post? I kinda have. We’re making some progress. I hope the words for my assignment will come to my mind as fast as the words for this post did. Thank you for reading through my nonsense, next time I’ll come up with something substantial and useful.

Update: I obviously changed my mind. But this post is not going anywhere, it’s a cute reminder of where I come from and I’m not ashamed of that.

On people

This week I’ve been having the opportunity to know my roomies better.  I was afraid of them because they all seem so much cooler than me and I felt like the Mexican idiot who came to study philosophy of technology. But they turned out to be really nice people, each of them has a unique personality I like. I always forget people don’t really give a shit about your life, they mind their own business. And everybody here wants to get along, why wouldn’t we? It’d be really annoying to be in the class, or live with, or party with someone you don’t like.

So I’ve been trying to be friends with the people I’ve met in the Uni as well, I still run into some new people every once in a while. They’re all young and are either studying or just recently graduated. Everybody has a different story of why they’re here, and we like to talk each other about it. You’re in a meeting and you realise that guy from Indonesia knows how to play guitar and starts singing a cool Indonesian song, and the Finnish couple gets out a salty liquorice to drink, and the Italian girl gets the red wine.

And then there are classes. And the people who go with me to classes. We’re a group of 26 people, we want to be philosophers of science and technology. I’m not the only engineer, as a matter of fact, most of us have engineering backgrounds. People with philosophy background tend to participate more in class. They’re very smart. And I’ve been a little afraid of talking because I’m afraid, as I always am, that everyone will think I’m an idiot. But I’ve been reading a lot as well. Trying to remind myself to not have fear in class and just expose my ideas to get valuable feedback I guess.

I guess, okay! I’m out.

Bike + Phobia of supermarkets

Okay, I haven’t been posting. I’ve been up and down emotionally more than I will ever be able to describe in a blog post, I’ve known around 70 people in this last week and I already have a TON of ancient greek philosophy to read. But I wanted to share some highlights.

Highlight #1 – Buying a Bike.

I learned how to ride a bike a month ago. Yes, you read it well. I had lived happily for 25 years without the need of using any bike, but of course, that’s not very practical in the Netherlands. For real, this Dutch guy, Quinten, just told me they have around 2-3 bikes per person in the Netherlands. Now, I haven’t really cross-checked that information, so you may want to google that before repeating it. Truth is, there’s a ridiculous amount of bikes around here.

And I actually practiced a couple of times in a park in Mexico before my trip to Enschede but this is nothing like riding in a park. Dutch bikers are a thing to admire, you have the tiniest lane for riding the bike between cars and people walking by, you sometimes have to share lanes with motorcycles, there are traffic lights for biking, you have to keep right in case another biker wants to go faster on your left. It-is-scary.

I thought of getting a bike Lore had but then it turned out I was too short for it (there’s not a lot of Dutch adults 1,49 meters tall). Some people told me I could have managed to get on that big bike, but c’mon, if I’m going to suck at riding bikes I want to suck in a bike that fits me. So I got this cute little bike I feel very comfortable with, and I’ve been riding it for about 5 days. The 3rd day we were riding in a group from the river to the city center and Angela, my new Greek friend, told me she thought I was really brave for taking my bike to the street even though I had just learned how to do it. I felt very accomplished and immediately realised I was an asshole to myself for trying to let everyone know that I suck so much at biking and somehow make it up for the time it would take me to get used to it.

But it’s done now, achievement unlocked: I can move by bike.

Highlight #2 – Going to the supermarket

Going to the supermarket in the Netherlands for the first time was surprisingly even scarier than riding the bike. I was depressed, sitting in my room. I had lost all appetite and knew I had absolutely nothing to eat in the fridge. I had to drag myself out of my room and walk across the street feeling I was going to die inside the supermarket, and I’m not even kidding. My brain has this real weird way of processing things when I have fear, I don’t know why I thought “I’m going to the supermarket and I’m not coming out”. It’s basically the result of not knowing dutch and realizing I won’t understand what’s on the labels (though I prepared myself by translating Carbs, Koolhydraten, Fats, Vetten and Protein, Eiwitten). I did not work on a list but I figured everything I would get would be something that wouldn’t require a lot of time and effort to prepare, that would not rot within a couple of days, and that I could eat for at least a week.

Here’s the complete list of things I got.

  • 2 Tomatoes – €0,50
  • A mix of lettuces – €1,12
  • 3 apples – €1,24
  • 3 bananas – €0,92
  • Sliced bread (multi-grain) – €0,99
  • Around 7 slices of ham – €1,56
  • Around 7 slices of Gouda cheese – €2,43
  • 6 Eggs – €1,29
  • Olive oil – €2,49
  • About 400 grams of chicken breast – €4,09
  • Peanut butter – €0,99
  • Mayo – €0,89
  • Pickles – €0,69
  • What I thought was yogurt but it turned out to be fat from cottage cheese (?) – €0,69
  • 1 pan – €16,49

For a great total of €36,38! Not too bad, huh? And the best part is I didn’t die at the supermarket. I did, however, fucked up in the weighing-the-fruit system because that’s something the Mexican cashiers do during the check-out. But my cashier had to stand up, go to the fruit area and weigh my tomatoes, apples, and bananas. I promised I would do so myself the next time. That fat from cheese wasn’t very kind in my stomach either, but I’m pretty sure I’ll survive. This is a picture of my latest creation in the kitchen. And you oughta know I now consider Dutch pickles to be the best pickles in Planet Earth.

And that’s it for Today because I should be reading Plato’s Symposium!

Day 2 in Enschede

Today really made it up for the big trip and Jet Lag from yesterday. I went for to the campus for the first time and got to know the people I will be studying with. Ana from Ukraine and Alice from the U.S. are enrolled in my same master programme. I also met a guy from Finland but I forgot to ask his name. From the same faculty, I met Dutch people, Indonesians, a guy from Monterrey! (hey!), Spain, Denmark, Italy, Greece, and Germany. Everywhere basically, and they were all so nice. And Ana said one thing that really stuck with me; “we all come from such different countries, but we don’t have a hard time getting along ‘cause we all grew up with the internet” She’s totally right, and I really liked them all, it made me really happy being able to talk to them.

I went back home and talked to my roommates, they’re mostly German but there’s also one Romanian. I drank warm beer, it tasted pretty good even though it’s the cheapest beer in town and I’m used to deadly cold beer.   I tasted some of the red wine their parents do, that shit was strong! They’re all really funny, I get along with them pretty well. I also brought some Mezcal from Mexico and we’re trying it on Saturday. Perhaps things aren’t that bad at all, perhaps I’ll get used to this place.

For sure I’ll be getting more sleep today ‘cause I’m also a little bit tipsy. I’m also quite aware this blog can get boring pretty quickly and I’m not making an effort to post cool pictures. I’ll get to that part soon, promise. Thank you for reading though, peace out.

Day 1 on Enschede

The trip was, well – exhausting. I don’t think I’ve ever felt this tired in my life. I managed to stay awake the whole day with the jet lag so I could sleep all night in this new time zone.

The only part of the city I got to know was the road from my house to the university, which is 20 min away, bus or bike. Well, I don’t have a bike yet, turns out I’m too short for the bike I was going to buy so I need to keep looking for one that suits me, probably in the Hobbit store. I also lost my OV-chipkaart card for taking the bus after the first use, which means I need to a) find it, b) buy a new one c) pay the bus rides in cash. I’m still rooting for plan A but I’m not the best finding things when I haven’t slept for 36 hours.

My room is really tiny. But, really, really tiny. I do have a shower inside my room which is cool, but there’s a clog in the piping we need to fix. There’s a bunk bed I need to disassemble and get rid of because the mattress is literally a foot from the roof. Something about sleeping with the roof on my nose doesn’t sound very appealing, so until I can disassemble that thing and get it out of the room I’m sleeping in a borrowed sleeping bag on the floor. I haven’t really talked to all my roomies because besides the fact that I’m very shy and awkward and this is all too overwhelming to me and I want to run away and hide in my room every time someone talks to me, well, I haven’t had much time.

Thanks to the Universe Lore lives in the same city. She made dinner for me and lent me her OV-chipkaart so I could come back home. I really need to sleep. Tomorrow’s the introductory day at the University. Let’s hope my brain works better in the morning and everything changes to a positive discourse. Until then.

1 day until The Netherlands

Basically having a panic attack.

70% of this week was working my ass off to get my bank accounts in order before I leave the country, pick the clothes I want to wear for the next year and put ‘em in a bag. Learning to cut my hair, saying goodbye to my best friends and the guy I liked, throwing away stuff, saying goodbye to the band.

The other 30% I’ve been procrastinating, reading stupid stuff online, watching the Janis Joplin’s Little Girl Blue documentary, going out for a drink. I never gave myself the time to realize how fucking scared I am, I just wasn’t centered, I’m so nervous. It just hit me because I’m putting the last things in my bag, today’s both the band’s New E.P. Release party and my Farewell party. It’s done, I’ve done it. I’ve managed to escape from this city. Will it be better? Will it suck? Will it crack me or will it make me a better person? Wiser, more determined. Will I really find a path for my career or will I just discover somewhere else I don’t fit in?

By now, you should’ve probably noticed I’m ridiculously emotional. And now I’m all broken down to tears because I’m afraid, but then I’m also in awe of what I’m capable of doing. So just let it sink in, take it as it comes, open your eyes, just carpe diem. I’ll keep writing so you might find out how all this ends.