Me and my cat

I have a work iPhone, have had it for almost 2 months, but for some reason I could not make actual calls with it. After many visits to my work helpdesk I finally got my third SIM card last Friday and lo and behold, third time lucky, I now have a phone I can use for more than the internet; I can actually make calls now! So, I have now finally started using the thing (will only use it for work, to keep work and private life separate), getting apps installed and such. My daughter is a little jealous, she wants an iPhone, but we never got her one because, well, it’s not that cheap. I, on the other hand, could care less about having an iPhone. I have a Samsung Galaxy phone privately, way cheaper, and I love it. Anyway, my daughter confiscated my now properly functioning iPhone to check out the fun new smileys on it and choose backgrounds for me and stuff. She also played with the camera and took this picture just as one of our cats walked over to me to say hi and head-rub me…

Cat and me

I normally am not fond at all of how I look in pictures, but this picture I like – it’s an image to treasure. 🙂

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The London BTS weekend

My daughter and her friend are fans of the Korean pop band BTS and last weekend we were in London so the girls could go to their concert. It was stressful getting tickets a few months ago, but two tickets were secured and the girls were very excited to go. As a fangirl myself I was well able to empathize with their enthusiasm for BTS. 🙂

We flew to London from Amsterdam early on Friday morning. The girls wanted a pancakes breakfast (my daughter is the one with the ponytail)…

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… after which we boarded the plane and arrived at London Luton airport before we knew it. Took the bus to my brother’s house in Hampstead and met up with him and my niece. The weather was turning out to be gorgeous, so we had a picnic lunch in my brother’s garden!

The girls had heard that there would be some sort of BTS event at Piccadilly Circus at 6 pm, so we all went into town. We shopped a bit, then my brother and niece headed home again (my niece was leaving for the weekend to see her mum) and I went to Piccadilly Circus with the girls.  We got there just before 5.30 pm and it was crowded, as illustrated by these two tweets!

And also illustrated by my pictures:

As I can’t upload videos here, I made 3 gifs from a video I made of the crowd while we were waiting:

The fans are called “Army” (yeah, not the Armitage Army, though) and the atmosphere at Piccadilly was electric. Excited people, BTS chants, BTS singing and dancing. This tweet, while not filmed perfectly, does show you the joyful mood. It was filmed not far off from were the girls and I were standing.

Busses drove by and every time an open roof tourist bus passed, everyone started cheering and clapping and waving at the people on the bus, who were waving back at us. Someone on a bus filmed our crowd HERE and if you know where to look you can even spot me in the crowd with my sunglasses on. Anyway, at 6 pm on the dot a Hyundai commercial showed on the big screen, featuring BTS and everyone started screaming.  The girls were very pleased to see their favourites up on that huge screen.

OK, yeah, so it was much ado, apparently only about a commercial, but still it was really fun to be there. We watched the commercial on loop a few times and then left. As Wembley Stadium is on the same underground line as the station near my brother’s house, the girls on the way home decided to go on to Wembley and check out the merchandise store there before it closed at 8pm. My daughter sent me a picture of herself walking underneath the huge poster of her fave BTS member, if I recall correctly that is Jungkook…

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They bought tour t-shirts there and then came back home. Good thing they did, because the next day, on Saturday, they ventured into the city alone to find several BTS pop up stores. The one store had a  6 hour queue, the other store a 3,5 hour queue! They didn’t stand in line but did look on in amazement and also got to explore the city a bit on their own.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch (i.e. my brother’s house), we spent a quiet morning at home as I had come down with a bad cold. But I didn’t want to waste my whole time in London with sickness so I looked into theatre tickets (preferably matinee) for my brother and I.  I could have gone to see Hugh Jackman again as he was in London with his show for the weekend and I could have gone to see Muse do their concert on Saturday as well.  But, as tempted as I was, I’ve already seen the Hugh show (although, if I had a money-tree I would have gone to see him again) and I’m seeing Muse here in The Netherlands in a few weeks. In the end I was able so score last minute tickets to see The Book of Mormon at the Prince of Wales Theatre, not far from Piccadilly. All I knew about the musical is that is has won many awards, is supposed to be funny, concerns itself with the Mormon religion and I had seen this video of the opening number…

So, on Saturday afternoon my brother and I were at the theatre, wondering what exactly was going to come our way.

… and boy, did we have a blast! I realize that the Mormon religion and Uganda, where the Mormons are sent to in the musical, are stereotyped and the language really is quite filthy at times but it was so very funny! We laughed all the way and when in the second half of the musical the Ugandan Mormons portray how they have come to understand the religion (due to very ‘creative’ missionizing from Elder Cunningham), I swear tears were running down my cheeks. It’s best not to reveal too much about this musical but if you like a spoof on taking religion literally that also doesn’t completely bash religion and is funny and uplifting, then go and watch this. I loved it.

Sunday was BTS day for the girls. My niece was back home again for a few hours before having to head back to her boardingschool, so we all went out to lunch. First time I ever ate a falafel burger, but it was good! At the end of the afternoon I accompanied the girls to Wembley, just so that I could see the venue for myself. The girls were wearing their new tour t-shirts proudly.

What I completely love about the BTS crowd is the diversity. People from all walks of life, all nationalities, all backgrounds were there, more diversity than I’ve ever seen in a pop or rock crowd. So cool! Dropped the girls off at the gate, I planned on going into the city afterwards but was feeling pretty bad so headed to my brother’s place instead. He was still out, driving his daughter to school. I curled up on the couch with a cup of tea and the last scone that was still in the house…

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Switching through the channels I saw that The Battle of the Five Armies was on, so I watched that…

… then watched and chatted with my brother after he came home. We waited for the girls, who came home at around 11.30 pm, totally exhausted and totally euphoric about the concert. Near the end of the concert the fans had a surprise for BTS, where the whole crowd chanted one of their songs back at them. My daughter said that they had teared up as well at that moment…

… and they so want to see BTS in concert again. Apparently they announed they’d be coming again next year.

On Monday morning we all slept in. My brother was working from home, he took us out to lunch before we made our way to the airport again for our fliight back home. I had been less productive on my weekend due to not feeling well (and I’m still sick now, ugh!) but still had fun and the girls had a blast – the full BTS experience for them! It’s been so fun to see them fangirl. 🙂

BTS – the stress!

So, my daughter has become fan of the Korean K-pop boyband BTS.  

She and a friend of hers have seen the concert movie, that came out a few months ago, two or three times in the cinema. She knows the songs (although she doesn’t sing along to the Korean parts, that’s a little tough), the stories they sing in their songs (taken from their life experiences), the boyband members’ names and their background stories. In her room she now has a little BTS shrine…

… and now the boyband is doing a world tour and they are coming to London. With cheap lodgings possible at my brother’s house my daughter is desperate to go with her friend. And who am I to stand in the way of fangirls? So, last week Friday we were ready for the sale to begin for the show on June 1st at Wembley Stadium. I was logged in on a laptop, my daughter was logged in, her friend was logged in at her home as well, as was her friend’s brother. Oh man, we tried for hours, but no dice, no tickets! Even my work colleague, who I was Skype chatting with, offered her help, but no luck. There is also a show in Paris, so we tried that as well, even though lodging would be way more expensive, but nope, couldn’t get anything there either. The girls were very disappointed.

Last Saturday morning a second Wembley concert was announced for June 2nd and the tickets went on sale this morning. My daughter couldn’t be home, so I logged in on two laptops…

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… my colleague also logged in at home and the brother of  my daughter’s friend was logged in. Again, no luck! Got all sorts of errors on the website, my colleague got those same errors.

Finally we got this one, which was supposed to mean we had made it into a queue…

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… but even then we got kicked out. My colleague at one point was able to secure two prime tickets (the most expensive, but what the heck) but when she wanted to proceed to check out was kicked off again. Happened to me as well a few minutes later with two other tickets. Aaaargh, the frustration! But then finally, after about 45 minutes my colleague got through and sure enough, was able to secure two tickets! Quite high up and to the side of the stage but good enough.

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My daughter, who had just come in from an appointment and was going off to school again soon, was over the moon! After my colleague got in, I also got in (several times, actually, after refreshing) but the tickets I could purchase were even further back. So, these two tickets are it. And oh my goodness, the stress and heart palpitations this has cost me… Who knew a Korean boy band would be so popular?

I’m glad I’m working from home today, I couldn’t have survived this stress at the office. Speaking of stress at the office, another colleague was apparently in a heated argument with micro-manager yesterday. Looks like the next generation of micro management warriors is standing up. Anway, let’s not think of work. I need to de-stress after this whole ticket saga. Looks like I have another London trip to book. I’ll be going to London with the girls, just won’t join them for the concert. K-pop isn’t quite my thing and the girls want to fangirl on their own. 🙂

Remarkable

My daughter is 15 today! I swear I don’t know where the time has gone.

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I always get a little sentimental when I think back to the day she was born. She has come a long way from this picture taken exactly 15 years ago this afternoon, about an hour after she was born…

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… and has become a very remarkable young lady whom we love very much! Happy birthday, dearest S!

It ain’t easy…

These days I find myself singing this David Bowie song in my head…

There’s a lot to deal with over here in the Esther-household.

Things with my daughter (I call her Sec here) and her friend (Tem), who has been admitted to a closed institution, have come to a head. As much as my daughter wants to support her friend, it has become impossible for her to do so now. Tem is putting Sec under pressure to do certain things for her (not only during visits but also in phone calls), trying to manipulate her, venting her frustration onto my daughter and it is causing deep depression, anxiety, sleeplessness and even fear for Sec. For my daughter’s own protection we’ve decided (and she has come to that conclusion herself as well) that it is best to break off contact with Tem for a while. Things have become so toxic that, together with a psychologist, this decision was made and Sec has felt lighter and somewhat relieved because of it since. We always knew the friendship was close but had its problems (hence us separating them in school a few years ago) but it is only now surfacing how deep those problems have become and how much Sec has slowly slipped into a role of suffering friend doing everything for her friend but getting very little in return. There is of course much more to all of this than I wish to write about here, but suffice it to say we have been very worried for Sec. Now, things do seem to be looking up a little for her, so that is good. Still to be continued, though…

And then the next thing: a week ago we were hearing on the news that in my hometown a woman on a bike  had been killed in an accident when a truck didn’t see her and drove over her. Horrifying news and then last weekend, while I was having a lovely weekend away with Suzy in Germany, I was contacted by an ex-colleague who told me the woman who had been killed was the former cleaning lady we used to have at the office! This wasn’t just any cleaning lady, she was the most lovely, cheerful, warm person you could ever wish to meet. I used to organize movie nights and she’d be there (she was working for a cleaning company, not for us, but she was so dear to many of us, I just invited her along every time), at company parties she was always helpful and friendly and full of mischief and laughter. I can still see her wide smile in my mind’s eye. She even insisted on babysitting my kids once and, even though it was only once some 6 or 7 years ago, the kids still remember her and the games she played with them. I last saw her about two years ago during a dinner… I just can’t believe that she was ripped out of her life in such a horrifying way. I understand her family has taken her body to Morocco so she can be buried there. Rest in peace, dear Hassana.  “Inna Lillaahi Wa Inna Ilayhi Raji’oun” (“We surely belong to Allah and to Him we shall return”).

On top of all this, two evenings ago Mr Esther started getting stomach cramps. It got really bad at night, so we went to see a doctor on night duty. Mr Esther was given tests and painkillers and they think it may be gallstones. We were sent home again, with pain sort of managed and were told to make an appointment in the hospital for a scan of his stomach. The pain has not subsided and the meds are turning out to not be doing enough, so this morning I called the doctor again. We now have a low dose of morphine for him. In less than two hours we have that hospital appointment. Going by in how much pain the poor man is, I fear they may even want to keep him there in hospital… we’ll see.

Sorry for the quick brain drain here. Stuff on this blog tends to be escapist and happy-ish but sometimes real life needs to be acknowledged here too. I know that this too shall all pass but as I already said, it ain’t easy this week. In the meantime, I’m posting kittens here to cheer me up…

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(To anyone else having a bad week: I got that picture from here:    https://metro.co.uk/2017/07/10/23-cute-kittens-to-get-you-through-a-tough-week-6760550/)