Category Archives: Personal

Sleep is for the Week

I’ve been wanting to write this post for a while now, because I think I need to share things. A year ago I was in a swamp. I was depressed, tired and stressed out.  Right now I feel more energetic and driven than ever. I’m shedding weight (not gaining hair unfortunately). I want to share what happened, because writing is therapy… though not always is it easy.

Dreaming is a luxury,
Like stopping-staring and beauty sleep.
I’ll stop when I’m finished,
And sleep is for the weak.

Frank Turner, ‘Vital Signs’

Sleep…

At work I felt I was completely stuck. I didn’t have the energy for anything, couldn’t face any conflicts and genuinely was terribly unhappy in the place I was at. Years of conversations with people that had the best intentions for me didn’t seem to yield much and though I learned a lot I remained stuck. I decided to pursue a teachers degree. It seemed a good idea at the time and a way out of what I thought was a dead-end street, a proverbial rope to drag myself from the swamp.

I started having pain in my arms and after various consultations with the doctor, I received some braces for what must be Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Right, that seemed logical… I had overworked my hands in combination with stress and weight gain and that was probably the issue. I went to see a company doctor, I talked to a psychologist, the whole shebang. Some told me that it might be deeper, others told me to worry less. I decided that it must be the environment and that I needed something new. I was very wrong about what I thought was the problem.

I didn’t sleep… Well, not in the sense where you get a full nights rest. What I have is called obstructive sleep apnea, which basically means that I stop breathing in my sleep and then wake up slightly… sink back into sleep, stop breathing and wake up again…and so on. So what are some of the effects and causes for sleep apnea.

Apnea

Some of the effects of apnea that I experienced are the following:

  • Exhaustion
  • Problems with building up a condition
  • Pains and other random complains
  • Depression
  • Mood swings
  • Forgetfulness
  • Headaches
  • Anxieties
  • Weight gain

In the long run you can even get damage to your intestines, like your liver and heart because the body simply doesn’t get the rest it needs. There is an extensive list of causes and they’re not things you can easily ‘handle’.

So why didn’t anyone find this out years ago (I might have suffered from this for 15 years or more)? Because like most people around me, I thought snoring was simply that… snoring. I never connected it to anything health related. I wouldn’t have even found out if it wasn’t for the work-related stress, which combined with weight gain to make matters worse. The basic cause for my issue is genetic, which is unfortunate since I have quite a severe version of apnea.

A solution and a different self?

It’s weird, the thing that happens when you suddenly get a rush of energy. When you sleep through a whole night again and wake up refreshed and full of spirit. That’s what happened to me when I got a CPAP machine. The machine operates at night, with a face mask, and pushes air through my nose and keeps it open so I breathe. I breathe and sleep deep sleep. I’m now like a resting Darth Vader (better try to see the fun in things right?).

And then I started to work out again. Not like before, where I was dragging my weary body all the way to the gym. No, I train with energy and drive again. My muscles are sore the next day, not just tired. That was also a new experience, to feel physically well. So what next? I get to revisit pretty much every decision and feeling I had. My habits are in a clash with my mental state, which is hard and exhausting, but exhilerating at the same time. I don’t feel the need to keep people on an arm’s length, but my behaviour isn’t easily changed. I don’t want to think doom, but my mind is so used to that road. Changing is going to be a challenge, but as I get my rest I’m not worried.

So what the hell do I do with this info?

I have to live with a machine pumping air into my throat for the foreseeable future. If I travel, I need to specially contact the charter company to discuss this and sleeping in a tent is no longer a real option. I hope to get healthier and qualify for a brand new treatment later, but it’s all good. The feeling of being well I would not trade for anything in the world… I feel the energy to pursue my dreams now.

I want to write. I want to write professionally every day, because it is what I love. The shaping of text, the creation of content. That is the dream I pursue now. And I’m very grateful for the fact that I can do that with all my energy and heart.

If you recognize any of these symptoms, if you do snore, get it checked out. There’s a huge taboo on the whole snoring thing. It’s embarrassing and annoying to have to cope with that in itself. There’s a solution though and it has its downsides, but they are outweighed by the good. Get this checked out!

 

That Roadburn Feeling

For this year’s Weirdo Canyon Dispatch I intend to describe that Roadburn feeling. Because we all know perfectly well that something special happens when the banners are up around 013 and strange visitors from far and wide converge upon Tilburg. It’s something peculiar that no other festival has, it makes our eyes and ears open just a bit wider. At the same time you feel that craving for the surprises this year’s festival will offer.

This craving stays with you for three or even four days (and if it’s three you always wish it was four). You approach every venue with an urgency, anxiously check your program where to go next and need to taste as much as possible from the line-up. Others just need to be in the vicinity of the venue, standing in the Weirdo Canyon in front of 013. It’s something special in the air (and I’m not talking about particular fumes that cloud the air during those days). A special feeling of warmth and welcome.

It’s because you know that you’re about to be treated to a buffet of great music. Hand-picked by people who want to share those great artists and sounds with you and have you experience them at their best. Not to rip you of, but to share that joyous event. That creates an enormous pile of trust and love, because it’s like Christmas for us fans. It’s why we come back every year. If we somehow become detached and stop going, we still feel like we need to apologise and explain why and how. That’s that special Roadburn feeling when I completely trust in Walter and his crew to take the best possible care of my musical desires for four days. It’s why I come back, every time.

Roadburn preview: Lost in the Forest

In a short series of preview articles, I intend to get ready for Roadburn 2017. Visiting Roadburn is a bit like a pilgrimage to me, a particular sort of reverie, which I intend to express in three articles dealing with the unknown, the world and the self. Written by a fan.

Roadburn is a gathering, an exchange of ideas if you will. Regardles of your own outlook, the open mind attitude that comes with Roadburn means an influx of new thoughts, ideas and concepts. A forest of new impulses, that always leaves me lost for a few days, realligning myself.

Agreed aesthetic is embedded so I’ll shatter that
Impaired vision like the world got cataracts
Endured attacks on all fronts, now we pushing back
Aligned thoughts to outflank how they counteract
– Dalek, ‘Shattered’

Into the woods: Sharing, exchanging and interacting

The great attraction of Roadburn is that it is simply more than just a festival. Roadburn is a microcosmos of people, who share their love for music. That doesn’t mean they’re all cut from the same cloth and neither are the bands. There’s a lot of variation in ideas, messages and content to the bands and visitors of the festival. No band playing at Roadburn is playing their music, just to ‘rock out’. This is music we love for its meaning, whether its spiritual like Amenra, cathartic like My Dying Bride or simply confrontational like  Integrity.

As a visitor I don’t just want to hear, I want to feel. I want to truly feel spoken to, adressed and shaken by what I hear and experience. I want to be moved by the experiences I have and therefor grow in my own view of the world. Roadburn is an international gathering, which means that not just bands bring a distinct flavor with them to the 013 venue, the Cul de Sac and the Patronaat. It’s the people, the art, the songs and conversations over food, drinks and cigarettes that make up the magical exchange of ideas that is Roadburn.

Drifting around Roadburn

I’ve had my hare of fascinating conversations over time and it makes for that absolutely amazing experience. But with little time to spare and many bands to see, you can just wander around in the Weirdo Canyon like a situationist drifter and experience whatever sonic experience you arrive at. From the atmospheric black metal of Ashborer to the post-punk of Alaric and the dark country of Those Poor Bastards, you just drift around from the start. Stay while you enjoy it, look further if you are looking for something else.

It’s a grand way to experience the festival, but don’t forget to take those little bits of ideas, concepts and thoughts with you. Keep them close and revisit them when you have a moment of reflection afterwards. Roadburn gives you lots of new things, don’t waste them. Sometimes getting a bit lost is not so bad at all.

Better times are coming

‘Cause better times are coming
Better times ahead
No-one gets remembered, my deathless child
So don’t rest too long in bed.
– Frank Turner, ‘Peggy Sang The Blues’

It’s been a hard, long road, but in a few months I finally cut loose the strains of the past and embrace my new challenge. It’s going to be hard work, it’ll be scary and it probably won’t be easy. It still beats the dead-end-rut I found myself in about 2 years ago. In a job I didn’t want, with a future that terrified me and no idea what to do about it.

I spend this weekend in Bulgaria, visiting the city of Sofia and I had  a chance to speak to some absolute strangers. I saw a new country,  with nothing but my backpack full of clothes and books and my wits about me. It’s all I need to feel completely free for once again, to feel the strength within. Standing somewhere between the mountains, looking at the might of nature, I feel better than I’ve done for a long time.

I’m leaving the rat race, where insecurity is a drive for trying to dominate and outdo the other for a different challenge, a different path. I’ve not eaten meat in a week now and that feels so much better too. I’m not where I want to be yet, but atleast I know where I’m going and not going down with the ship of misery. Sometimes you just need to see the clouds and the trees again, to start believing in it once more.

There’s not that much that I need, there’s enough music in the world to sustaiin me and plenty of books I still need to read. I’ve woken up depressed, tired and desperate enough times now. Enough time spend thinking about life, time to live it.  Let’s see how far we can truly go.

I’ve got a plan and a brand new backpack. It’s about the journey. Isn’t it?

Photo by Justina Lukosiute

Voting for Mother Nature

I’m seated in a cold old factory hall, clutching a cup of coffee that isn’t very good. As is my habit, I intensely stare at the stage imploring the evening to start. It’s a full house of people for tonight in the Hall of Fame in Tilburg, eagerly waiting. This is not about music though, but about voting.

It’s not a metal concert though, tonight I’m enjoying a reading from Esther Ouwehand and Lammert van Raan about the Partij voor de Dieren (Animal Party) and their vision that idealism is the new realism. We watched a short film about nature, which was very powerful. The party members spoke about the trials they’ve had to face from animal noises from other politicans to a guy from the VVD (party for many monies) eating a balloon to prove that they were not bad for the environment…

So how do you end up at a place like this? I thought I’d tell you.

My political journey

I come from a rather left wing nest, where voting for the more left orientated parties is the norm. Voting is always done with the idea of making the world better. We’re an idealistic bunch, My parents were divided about the main direction of that change, it was either equality or environment. I’ve been raised with those ideas, but also with the thought that there’s always two sides to a story. Trying to  be critical and taking another view serious is important. Criticism, I sort of learned, is the cornerstone of effective democracy and almost a duty for every citizen. If we hear a politician shout certain facts, we should check them. If a politician suggests a solution, we should be skeptical of it. Not out of distrust, but because it’s our duty. Also, Henry Rollins tells us to do so…

I think that’s how I ended up in punkrock music. The idea that big companies were dominating the world, that polticians were doing a half-arsed job and the idea that music could change the world is deeply ingrained in my personal development. Again, thanks to my parents for encouraging and feeding that. My passion for politics always was present and I’ve never skipped a vote, whatever vote it was. I felt affinity to various parties and was a member of two  others, but ended up here. What is it that so grabs me?

Shaping the way of voting

Was it my journey through extreme music, ending up listening to black metal that worships nature? Partly so, I’m certain of that. Was it the visits to the forests since I was a child and the endless string of films and documentaries, like Philip Glass’s ‘Koyaanisqatsi’? Certainly… Was it that magical moment when I got married to my lovely wife on a hill top in the middle of Lithuanian green fields in the Romuva tradition? A tradition that is based on harmony and balance with nature, on planting trees and love for nature? It might have tipped the scales.

At the age of 31 politics and the world around me made me think that the only way to change the world is finding the things you can do yourself. I considered not voting and focusing on that. Not the big things, but living conscious, buying durable and thinking how you can profoundly affect your environment for the better. It’s why I’m leaving business life for a teachers position too. This way I just might change a little bit of the world, change a mind here and there… An inspirational figure for me, who is a teacher, described it once as ‘planting a seed’. Exactly the words used in todays presentation.

If you can form a movement though, of people all wanting to make these little changes… well, we might just change the course of our world.

So what is it with this party?

During the reading it was made clear that the party is very progressive and therefor often ridiculed. The name also is often reason for jokes and mockery. Those two points I would like to address.

Progressive often means a new voice. To me, this is not a strange thing. If you try to get something very simple done and it doesn’t work, you try something else. Being willing to look at the groundwork of what you’re doing, for the  ideals behind it, makes sense. I’m an idealistic voter, I’m not informed enough to have an opinion about all the topics in a program, so I want to vote for a general direction. An ideology if you will. At this point we have two choices, which are keeping on going in the direction we’re moving in now or radically change our orientation.

Most parties focus on economics, which never made sense to me. Economics has become a huge business in dealing with tangled, untouchable currencies. How can so many businesses deal in something that physically doesn’t exist? It makes no sense and it is bringing us nowhere, so why keep voting for them?. Dealing with issues as integration, foreign wars, taxes and all matters, but what is at the root of most problems we have? It usually is something with nature. That is something this party got right. This is that change we can all believe in, we need to believe in. Then there’s also the grassroots element.

The party is not just aiming at politics, it’s aiming at creating movement of people that are willing to change. It reminds me of the way Bernie Sanders describes his politics. The movement already was there, but now there’s a catalyst and a flag to rally around.

Animals

If you didn’t care
What happened to me
And I didn’t care for you

We would zig-zag our way
Through the boredom and pain
Occasionally glancing up through the rain

Wondering which of the
Buggers to blame
And watching the pigs on the wing

– Pigs on the Wing, Pink Floyd

A party for animals is a funny thing, unless we really look at what we’re doing. We’re behaving pretty much like animals towards each other. The less we take care of each other, the more animalistic our behavior becomes. Animals are focusing on surviving, regardless of others. The way our economy is dealing with the world currently is like that. The way we start dealing with each other is more like that. The core values that the party underlines aren’t just relevant to animals but very much so for human beings as well. Compassion, durability, personal freedom and personal responsibility.

I picked some lyrics here, that might say a lot about many situations. In this song people read different meanings, but for me the opening lines say the most. If we stop caring for another, then what are we really? The way we treat animals says a lot about the way we treat another. The way we talk about refugees for example is no other than the way we talk about cattle. They’re a nameless, faceless entity in our perspective. We create herds all the time, from PVV-voters to foreign nationalities.

Time to change

More and more this is arising. The people around us in traffic, in the supermarket, they’re not fellow human beings but competitors who we must beat in our consumerist hunt. We’re out for maximum gain, more stuff, bigger possessions and we have no disregard for others. We treat each other more and more like animals. Especially those big companies and businesses have found a special mercilessness and disregard of human life, nature and the world. I’m not a vegetarian, but the way we deal with life on our planet shows no respect and most of all is not a way that can last. A party for the animals is therefore not just a party for those that walk on four paws, hooves or feet, but also particularly for those who walk on two…

So that’s why I was there on a cold, rainy Wednesday night. That’s why I feel very passionate about this new direction. So that’s why I believe in this alternative. That’s why I believe that this is a different option and the way to go. A voting alternative for the road to ruin we’re on, because we have no alternative earth.

 

Disclaimer: This is personal opinion, not party policy or necessarily viewpoints. It’s an attempt at describing a feeling, position and experience by myself. I am greatly interested in pursuing this further. 

The next four years…

Can’t I just spend the next four years at a punk show?
I want to spend the next four years in the front row
Because if the world outside is going to shit
Then you will find me in the centre of the circle pit.

-Frank Turner ‘Sand in the Gears’

Yeah, I’ve been trying to figure out how to deal with a world, in which people believe blatant lies of Trump, ridiculous plans bij Wilders and probably will vote for a Le Pen. A world so hung up on blaming the other for our own misfortunes that we forget that whole enlightened idea of being able to make our own future.

If you’ve sat still for 20 years of-fucking-course you get passed by, by someone who studies and grows. No one is steeling your job, you’re just not holding on to it. Oh yes, I believe firmly that the capitalist system that drives us, is slowly killing us and driving us to leaving life earlier. It also drives some to find solutions, to do things differently. From the tiny house movements, to backpackers and all sorts of free spirits. Sometimes I even find escape in books and by simply making my world as small as it is.

So why does this prospect make me feel so utterly sad? Because I believe that we’ve been making a lot of progress in the last couple of years. Gay marriage, environment politics and much more. Sure, there’s a lot of room for improvement, but we’re atleast going forward. Now the Bible is back as a rule book and that was never a good idea. Standing still is less bad than moving backwards, I think Billy Bragg once sang. I think we’re moving backwards into fear and stupidity.

But maybe this is the four years of shit we’re going to need. Maybe this will drive us back to the self sustained communities that are the backbone of the society as we know it. It’s easier to fear a horde of muslims without names and faces, than to fear your friendly neighbour. Fear mongering depends on the idea that people are masses, not individuals. If you accept that, you need also to accept that Trump is not a monster. He’s just a man who probably is a bit afraid and misinformed.

But what to do? I can’t spend four years in hibernation. And no, I don’t live in the United States, but the Dutch elections are due too and I think that regardles of all the proof that they’re a bunch of useless naysayers, there might be a big white, right win. What can I do in these next four years? How do I make sense of it and survive it?

Some guy at a concert in Area 51 explained to me what a Naysayer is. I kinda knew what it ment, but he fully explained it to me (right before running into a closed door, but that didn’t demean his point). Naysayers are people that will not and cannot help you progress. They will not solve, alleviate, improve or change anything. They just say ‘nay’.

So all you can really do… is say yes. Engage in conversation, take part in things, be out there! There’s a surprisingly small circle around you that you can make an impact on profoundly, by just being there. Embrace the people you care about and be open and kind to others. Don’t give in to the fear and hatred. Don’t use fists and hatespeech, use love and understanding. Compassion and that almost forgotten thing called discussion. Don’t wait for the change, be the change.

We make the world we live in, even in its small scale of close acquaintances. Say no to hatred, bigotry and other ridicuousness.

Be all that you can be, because as Frank Turner once said…

We are what we believe

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2220MdXVPGw

Stranger Aeons: An overdue introduction

When I started my own blog, I was over the moon with a broad scope of topics and I named it ‘Wheaton’s Law’. It was a geeky thing, but if you really look at any blog, it’s probably run by a geek of sorts. When I launched that blog, I decided to inform the world of what, why and how. Time to do that for the rebranded Stranger Aeons.

Origin of the name

Like any name, you want it to be original, to be yours. I’ve recently got a tattoo above my knee saying: “with strange aeons even death may die”. Now, this is an obvious Lovecraft reference. I love that phrase, I really do. So that was my first real idea after many, many failed ideas. I mean, I am the guy who came up with a tumblr blog titled ‘Fascism and Fascination’, so I have a history of bad names. Oh yeah, first blog ever was titled Psychosis Safari… Ah well.

So yes, obviously when one finds a unique name, registers it and all, you find out about things. Like an Entombed EP and a Lithuanian band named Stranger Aeons. You can’t win ’em all.

So why Stranger Aeons?

I picked the name because it resonates with the things that fascinate me in life. I’m an avid reader about past or fictional aeons and I feel that we live in a rather strange one as well. There’s a lot of mystery in the world and this is what fascinates me. It allows me to explore places, drinks, books and music and share it under the same banner. Surely, my focus is on music, but even in that I hope to offer the strange and mysterious.

So my focus is on extreme metal, folk and records that are just too unnatural, weird or haunting. I try to get some interviews in with bands that fascinate me and maybe more if my time becomes more liberal.

I think you should write about my band, we’re sort of strange

I would love to, so just contact me and I’ll check it out. Since this is still a one man endeavour, I can hardly cover everything. If I don’t sorry, but I always try to when I’m asked.

Just to be clear, I’m interested in anything that pushes the envelope, anything that is rediscovering our ancient past and roots. Things that explore and evoke thoughts. Be sure to contact me, I don’t bite.

I say Dillinger Escape Plan? She says let’s go

Marriage, that’s old fashioned… Well, it’s just one of the things I heard when I told people I was getting married. Not in a negative sense, but as in surprise that someone still does this archaic stuff. Marriage is massively uncool but I’m nervous and excited for it anyways.

People that don’t feel positive about marriage usually associate it with the casual manner in which relationships are handled these days, and I can’t blame them. I see the cycle around me of people getting together, moving in, getting a pet, getting married, getting kids… and getting horribly fed up with eachother.

But sometimes you get to win, sometimes you find that person that you want to stay with. Yeah, sure, sometimes you’ll think that you’ve made the biggest mistake, sometimes you’ll be annoyed by everything. Relationships are hard work, they’re never easy and the work only keeps coming. You might feel that this is not what you signed up for. Not what you want.

Luckily, I get to think… but would any other just say ‘Yes!’  if I suggested going to see Dillinger Escape Plan?  She just says ‘when?’. Not because she loves the band, but because she knows it matters to me. And then I know that I’ve found the bestest bestie in the world… And I can’t wait to put that ring on her finger.

how do you top that?

Contemplations while listening to Rush on Train

Getting anywhere with public transport is rather expensive. That’s unfortunate, because not only do I like to do my part for the environment, it also allows me the great liberty of listening to records.

Something about the rhythm of the train that takes me to uni is calming, soothing almost. I’m on my way, I am actually moving forward today and towards new goals. It feels similarly when I’m clmbing, that moment when you reach the top, the moment just before when you leap. A moment of clarity and security.

Though ofcourse that one with climbing is way more intense and a short burst, not even lasting for a second. It’s soon replaced by the sense of completion, but isn’t completion the lesser of the feeling that comes just before? That desperate grasp for the ultimate, the leap of faith in a Kierkegaardian (and literal) sense?

But the train just rolls on, steadily and calmly, it takes me to that goal at its own pace and unlike the leap on the wall. That leap is my own doing, the train is just helping me get from A to B. Regardless, its a moment of contemplation and introspection. In the meantime Rush is filling my ears, I listen to ‘Moving Pictures’.

Though his mind is not for rent
Don’t put him down as arrogant
His reserve a quiet defense
Riding out the day’s events

– Rush ‘Tom Sawyer’.

Back to School

I’m just taking the liberty to write a bit of a personal thing here now and then. Though I’m super excited about this blog, I’m also very aware that my busy schedule will not be to its advantage.

Today I went back to school again. Yes, again, after four years I’m back to studying to get my masters in teaching Dutch. It really is quite a big step to take and I have to admit it feels rather scary too. The worst part of it is that you think everyone looks at you.

Most students are young and in the days where you live on a can of energy drink and a bun with ham and cheese and rage on for hours. I feel insecure being older, do they think I failed at life? Do people look at me as some weirdo? All that you have to put aside, but it’s weird not to have that bonding experience and excitement, but I’m here for me now. I’m not here to taste life and enjoy, I’m here to study hard and get ahead with my life.

The upside is that I’m spending quite some time studying by myself, so today I had a good listen to some excellent records.
Listener has done a great job on ‘Wooden Heart’. I never tire of hearing that one. ‘To Ride, Shoot straight and Speak the Truth’ by Entombed is a super motivational record in a way, it really helps you getting through a boring text. That ‘Magma’ record by Gojira was especially helpful in getting through the train ride there and The Hellacopters ‘By The Grace of God’ is an absolute masterpiece!

I did something new today, that I haven’t done since my first week at uni, about 10 years ago. I went to sit on the grass in the sun with my book and just enjoyed the day. I know I’m on the right path and I’ve already got a wealth of life experience. It’ll all be fine.