Fortune cookies

We opened two fortune cookies yesterday. My daughter already experienced the first one on a class trip to Berlin a few weeks ago…

… and I’m looking forward to experiencing the second one…

But first we have this one’s 18th birthday party this afternoon…

Happy Sunday all!

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All grown up!

It’s my son’s 18th birthday today! Officially speaking, he’s all grown up… Here in The Netherlands he may now vote, drive, drink, do his own finances without us having any control, he may get married and get tattoos without his parents’ consent.  It’s a bit surreal that although he’s our child he’s not a kid anymore.

I so remember these days…

… and now it’s this!

Mr Esther and I got old and my son is now all grown. It really does go by so fast…

The real Slim Shady!

Yesterday evening, Mr Esther junior and I went to see Eminem perform live in Nijmegen in the east of the Netherlands. My son has been an Eminem fan for about 3 years now and this concert was the gift he got from us for his 17th birthday. He is the only one of his friends who really loves Eminem, so, as they are no fans, I said I’d love to go with him. I’m not a rap or hip hop fan at all but through Es jr’s influence I have started to really like some of Eminem’s songs and found myself excited to be going to this concert as well! Of course, my excitement was no match for Es jr’s excitement.

We got there quite early, in the afternoon. I got Es jr a commemorative concert t-shirt which he absolutely loves…

We walked around, got drinks and something to eat and then secured ourselves a nice little spot. Es jr didn’t want to go up too far in the front, he doesn’t like the pushy crowdy element when close to the stage. It was quite hot, so while waiting and chatting we shielded ourselves from the sun for a bit.

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The evening started with two rap acts to warm up the crowd. Finally, at around 9.20 pm, Eminem started his concert and Es jr was in seventh heaven. This was pretty much our view – good view on the screens and we could see Eminem (encircled in this picture) jumping around and rapping on stage.

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He had an MC/side-kick to help whip up the crowd and sing along with him and it was a great concert! He sounds great live, just like on his recorded music and really gave his all to make the concert a good one. Eminem hasn’t been to the Netherlands in 15 years, so him singing ‘Without me’ where he sings “Guess who’s back? Back again? Shady’s back, tell a friend!” seemed extra topical.

For those who don’t know, Eminem is also nicknamed ‘Slim Shady’…

He sang a lot of great songs, some of his greatest hits…20180712_213524_resized… and Es jr could rap along with pretty much all of them! He was also not shy to stick up his middlefinger together with thousands of others when asked to do so by Eminem.

Eminem has this one song where he does a really quick rap in the song “Rap God”. In fact, I understand that that song is in the Guinness Book of Records for being the hit single which contains the most words.

There was a beautiful section where Eminem sang some duets with Skylar Grey, songs that have been recent hits from his latest album. Skylar Grey really has a great voice! He also did this song with her from 2000 called “Stan” about a stalker fan…

As the sun set, it all looked even more beautiful.20180712_223703_resized

The last song ‘Lose yourself’ (one of my fave Eminem songs) was beautifully lit and beautifully performed, a perfect end to the concert.

It ended with a few fireworks…20180712_225316_resized… and it really was over all too soon. In fact, that may be my only gripe: the concert lasted barely 90 minutes. I’m used to concerts being a little longer than that, would’ve been cool to have a little more. No matter, though, we were very grateful for all that we had seen and heard and Es jr really was very happy! “I can’t believe Eminem is here, so close to us in the flesh!” he beamed at me during the concert. And: “Best birthday gift ever!” he exclaimed afterwards. This concert certainly is a memory to treasure, for Eminem and for sharing that with my son. 🙂

Young man!

Yesterday was my son’s 17th birthday. We had dinner with our IL’s and next weekend we have a party with my family (we keep the two worlds and families separate for reasons of sanity). Yesterday, as I was walking behind my two kids after dinner, heading for the ice cream shop to get some good scoops of ice cream for our dessert, I really wondered where the time went. I saw two tall young people walking ahead of me (my daughter is almost my height, my son is almost a head taller than me)…

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… when in my mind my kids are still like this in a way…

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I know it’s a huge cliché, but time really does fly!

It’s serious

In all my 48 years on this earth I have not felt so scared for the future as I have felt in the past year and a half after Brexit was voted for and after the US elected an idiot president. In my lifetime I never liked any Republican US president, not Reagan, not the older George Bush and I thought it could not be worse than George W. Bush but I was wrong. I was not a fan of their politics, just like I’m not a big fan of our current Dutch prime minister, but with them I never quite felt like the world was going to end. I do sometimes feel that now with the man who has got to be the most idiotic and dangerous Western leader since Adolf Hitler: Donald Trump! News of the idiot reneging the Iran nuclear deal and telling lies about it as justification is the latest example of his idiocy.

It’s not just Donald Trump and his “me me me” nationalist right-wing racist and misogynist philosophy that scares me. It’s also this whole right-wing nationalist trend, dipped in racism, which is so prevalent in Europe right now that is so damned scary. Donald Trump is alienating the world and when Europe needs unity more than ever to face it, we have Brexit happening and elections in Austria last year and recently in Hungary where nationalist right-wing leaders win (yet again and seem to get more extreme). In the past 70 odd years there never was any danger of war for our small nation alone. We are part of a bigger European Union and the big USA was our friend. Together we could handle it all, but USA doesn’t feel so friendly anymore and the EU is showing cracks. Is it the beginning of the end? There’s a move towards ‘everyone for himself’ and excluding others and for me the end of that move is only darkness, devastation and possibly war…

In 1997 mandatory military service was abolished in The Netherlands. Even before that, it was easy to avoid conscription for even minor health, psychological or conscientious reasons, because there really was no need for a big Dutch army in a unified Europe standing together. Mr Esther never had to serve because of his asthma, my older brother never had to serve because of a minor foot problem he had, my younger brother never had to serve because of a back ailment… I think my other two brothers weren’t even called because they were living abroad and still are. If they were called, there certainly was no difficulty in not having to go into the Dutch military.

My son is turning 17 in two months time and the other week a letter for him arrived from the Dutch Ministry of Defence…

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What the letter says is that, as he is turning 17 this year, he is automatically registered for military service. He doesn’t have to serve, as there is no conscription anymore, but he is registered.  Every Dutch man between the ages of 17 and 35 is registered and should there be a need in the future, he can possibly be conscripted and called upon to serve in the military after all. He could possibly have to serve up until the age of 45.

Don’t get me wrong, I believe in defending yourself when faced with evil and I do commend military people who put themselves in harm’s way for peacekeeping missions, as the Dutch military does now. The idea is noble, although I feel that war and violence never is the real answer.

I always hoped we had learned from the second World War and that at least within Europe and the US we would never have to fear such evil self-serving idiot racist leaders anymore. Democracy would put a stop to the most extreme ideas and extreme leaders, I thought. Isolationism and “me me me” power struggles were over, now that there is cooperation in Europe and with the US, I thought. Racism after Auschwitz is only a fringe idea now, I thought. I guess I was wrong. Even when ‘justified’, in my heart I do not believe in war. In the end there is only death and destruction and lives torn apart.

If my son had received this letter from the Ministry of Defence 10 years ago, or maybe even two years ago, I would just have acknowledged it and laid it aside. But when I see what the Western world I live in is becoming now, for the first time I really am worried. A lot has happened in two years and even more can happen in the next 18 – 28 years! Yes, my son won’t have to go into the army now, but what will the state of our world be in 5 or 10 years time? What if we are slowly sliding into a World War III? What if my son does have to go to war one day? I don’t even dare think of that scenario… I don’t want my son or anyone else in the generations after him to have to experience war… I always hope that mankind will learn its lesson but with all the wars and devastation already in the world now and with these scary trends now in Europe and the US, I feel that any lessons that may have been ‘learned’ are so easily forgotten. I want my son to live in peace, I want all of us to live in peace!

My son is not in the least bit worried, not yet in any case…

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… but I am…