Guess I really am part of the AA

My name is Esther and I’m a Richard Armitage fan. I should say well-wisher, by decree of Mr. A himself once long ago, but I won’t. So, I’m a fan but only in a semi-public capacity. I don’t gush daily about him (I am over the really gushy stage and have been for years), I don’t tweet that much about him or even write that much about him, I don’t participate in Richard message boards or social media banter and I keep away from fandom drama as much as I can (in fact, I’m quite obtuse and barely notice a lot of it). Privately, I don’t constantly pour over his pictures, or read articles and fanfic, or watch fan videos, or scour the internet for more info and I don’t re-watch his work that much anymore either. I completely skip the audiobooks and it nowadays also takes me quite a long time to actually watch some of his other newer projects (they are not always for me, although, for what it is, I did quite like The Stranger and found My Zoe alright as well, but I have not seen The Lodge and Castlevania seasons 2 and 3 yet).

With all this, you may wonder if I even would still call myself a fan and the answer is, yes, I would. I still love the man from afar, he remains my favourite even if I’m not always vocal about it and I can still get excited about something like winning a Richard Armitage shrine (to add to the few fan items I already have and really cherish) or finding a new interview. Something in his acting and in the way he comes across (warts and all) really connects with me and I am always interested in what he has to say and what he’ll be doing next. His pictures cross my Twitter timeline daily, I am thankful to more active fans who keep up with news so well, I read some Armitage blogs (but even my fave RA blogs don’t blog about him all the time, which I like, as there is more to life than just Richard) and I will on occasion even travel to see him live.

In short, I do my fangirling in my own way (sometimes detached, sometimes immersed) and in my own little bubble here on blog. I also engage a teeny tiny bit on Twitter so that I can stay up to speed with news and that’s it. So, I don’t think my profile is that large or noticeable and until today I think I have stayed under the radar well enough and was never targeted as an Armitage fan by fake Richard Armitage accounts before. But here you have it: today, during my lunch break, I saw that “Richard Armitage” has finally deemed it time to follow me on Twitter!

I have reported the account as fake but oh my goodness, does this mean that after having fangirled over Richard for 14 years, I am now officially part of the ‘Armitage Army’? I’m always wary of being labeled as one thing and I certainly don’t want to be part of an army! I love the man but he is not my ‘commander in chief’ – I fear I’ll be a disobedient soldier because he can’t command me to do anything (no one can, not even my most beloved husband) and I certainly won’t take everything he says or does as gospel to be followed. This Twitter follow makes me realize that I am more part of a wider fan group than I saw myself to be. The Armitage bots (or whoever makes these fake accounts) have finally found me!

So, all this to say – I guess I am now recognized more widely online as an Armitage fan, ‘Richard’ followed me and I have reported him. 🙂 Does this make the Richard-Esther connection more real now? I’m not sure how I feel about that.

(Yes, this is the ringtone that plays every time my phone rings)

(Been typing at this blog post off and on, in between work, since lunch. This means I need to work later than I usually do to catch up again. See? I’m fan enough that Richard Armitage can distract me from work.)

There goes US democracy…

Not the ‘greatest country in the world’ after all.

This is the scariest US president ever. I so very much hope for my dear American friends that this doesn’t turn into another civil war just because of an ignorant, racist, ‘patriotic’, selfish, corrupt and greedy narcissist. Maybe I’m too late in hoping that, it somewhat feels like a civil war already… Can this still be stopped?

And now, the end is near…

… and the summer will really start winding down here. We’ve been having a few nice, sunny and not too hot days here this past week. My favourite weather, really, which is 20-25 degrees Celsius (in the 70s Fahrenheit) with sunshine. On Sunday mini-me and I picked up my brother (who has just returned from a stint in Malta) and my mother and we headed to the beach. My mother isn’t that great of a walker anymore, so my brother and I took turns sitting with her in a cafe and walking with mini-me on the beach. It was lovely out there. Quite a lot of people there, but luckily it was easy to socially distance…

In the meantime, Mr. Esther went for a bike ride and Mr. Esther junior played handball outdoors in an away game and badly injured the middle finger of his left hand. The top of his finger is just hanging there loosely, looking very odd. I took him to the hospital yesterday for x-rays.

Luckily he has very little pain and it turns out that nothing was broken but he does have a torn tendon. Tomorrow his finger will be put into a splint for 6-8 weeks so that it can heal properly and doesn’t have to be taped to his ring finger anymore.

This afternoon, after some work meetings online, I took a few hours to work outside. Our old cat is curled up right near me, which is always lovely…

… and I am fully aware that this may be the last time this year that working outside like this will be possible. Chillier weather is predicted from tomorrow, so I guess that is when autumn will really start for us.

Corona cases are on the rise here in The Netherlands. Measures were tightened slightly last week but I suspect stricter restrictions may be coming. Add that to the weather getting cooler and we may be stuck inside for the foreseeable future more than ever these coming weeks/months. Mr. Esther and I will really have to make more of an effort to actually stick our noses outside our front door every day (mini-me and Mr Esther junior have school/internships and their sports activities to drag them out of the house… for now, in any case). Such strange times we live in and I’m not only talking disease; I almost fear reading the news, especially US news, every day. I so hope for some light at the end of the tunnel soon…

Happy 5781!

This evening the two day festival of Rosh Hashanah starts, which sees in the Jewish year of 5781. The song I’m sharing here is called “BaShana Haba’a” (“Next Year”) and is a popular, secular, new year’s song, a joyful song filled with hope for the upcoming year.

Every time I hear it (which is not often) my heart swells up with cherished memories of my childhood with my parents and siblings in and around Jerusalem. This family photo was taken in a field right behind our house in the village we lived in just outside Jerusalem, a few months before we moved to Germany when I was 10…

My father’s life’s work as a Dutch Protestant theologian was devoted to dialogue between the three large monotheistic religions. He taught us to be anti-missionary and pro understanding of the other in their faith, specializing in Jewish-Christian dialogue. Our own family technically was a multi-Christian-faith family (not that we ever paid attention to that ourselves). My parents were Dutch Protestant, my older siblings were also baptized Dutch Protestant, my younger brother and sister were born as Arab Christians in Nazareth and, like me (born in Jerusalem), were baptized in the Anglican church. My Ethiopian brother and sister entered the family as Catholics.

Because of my father’s work, we had Jewish friends and were often invited to celebrate Jewish holidays with them. I loved Jewish holiday celebrations at the homes of those friends and sometimes even hosted in our own home, with Hebrew prayers and good food and a lot of singing. Almost all of us became non-religious as we grew up but I always think that if I ever were to choose a religion for myself to follow, it would be (liberal) Judaism. There is something about Judaism and hearing Hebrew and the Hebrew songs (even though I barely speak Hebrew myself) that make me feel completely at home.

I have two siblings who did convert to Judaism (my older sister on the left next to my mother in the picture above and my older brother with the black and white dog) and so, because of them, I am always quite aware of when the Jewish holidays come around. So, to them and to anyone who is Jewish and reading this I want to say: Shanah Tovah! I hope the coming year will be better than the last….

#BlackLivesMatter!

I’m a little late to this, even though I did see mentions of it crossing my Twitter timeline here and there this past week. Recently, on Britain’s Got Talent, a dance group called Diversity performed a Black Lives Matter dance and apparently that dance has received a record amount of complaints for being too political. I only just now watched that dance for the first time and it is a stunning performance.

I had a visceral reaction to this performance and I am still in tears while typing this.

Speaking of that performance, it also made me think of this performance at the BRIT awards earlier this year by a British rapper, whom I don’t know, called Dave. He too addressed Black Lives Matter in a very personal way…

I had a similar visceral reaction to that performance as well when I first saw it a few months ago and again just now as I re-watched it for this post. In fact, that performance sparked a whole discussion on the topic with my son a few months back, which was very valuable to me, and since then Black Lives Matter has come up in conversations with my kids regularly. I am so proud to hear them speak with such disgust of intolerance and how natural it is for them that black lives really do matter (and how much they hate the #alllivesmatter hashtags).

One of the things art is about is that it interprets reality to highlight an issue or feeling and make us as viewers understand and talk about it. These performances do that so achingly well. The pain of what it can feel like to be black in our society really hits home in these performances and I think everyone should just take a moment to stop and listen and then do better.

Thankfully I am just now reading that British media regulator Ofcom will not further investigate Diversity’s performance. They say: “Diversity’s performance referred to challenging and potentially controversial subjects, and in our view, its central message was a call for social cohesion and unity. Any depictions of violence by the performers were highly stylised and symbolic of recent global events, and there was no explicit reference to any particular political organisation – but rather a message that the lives of black people matter.”

Bravo to Diversity and Dave for their heartfelt and stunning performances and may it help effect change!