I never was any good in chess. I got a book about playing chess when i was around 11 or 12 years old. I read it all. I played on my own with the questions. The opening, middle and endgames. I enjoyed it. But i never got any good in it. I never found anybody to really play with. The book i still have i read a couple of times. I like that. I also did some of the exercises. I enjoy reading the parts about all the different sides of this game. I will most likely read it again once i finished this post! Well, over the weekend anyway.
I did have the small plastic board with the magnetic pieces. Not sure when i got this one. Didn’t do me much good. It is still a game for two people.
The computer chess game i think i got from a friend of my mother. I used to work for her a couple of years, cleaning up her house. I’m not even sure i really got this game from her, it could be it was meant to be a loan for a short time only. I never gave it back though. Sorry, i can’t remember anything about this.
Anyway, i played lots of times on this computer game. I did learn that i was quite good in setting up a defense. It is the strategy and the attack which i’m terrible at. Something which gave me an insight in my personal configuration. It is easy for me to set myself up as vulnerable, as an easy to hit figure, someone for others to protect. It is hard to stand up for myself, fight for myself, see that other people are doing something wrong. If that is the case of course.
I did play chess with postcards for a short while with an old friend. We never played it out. I also never saw her again after this. Not that we had a fight, we just grew apart. I’m not sure i really enjoyed playing it like this. I like to sit opposite someone else to really enjoy playing the game.
I did buy the game Deep Green 1.2.3 for my iPhone. I played it on there a couple of times. I love the way it looks. I also love the way the pieces move, when you play with your fingers touching the screen. Excellent.
But the best game i have, is the one i got only a few months ago. It used to be from my stepfather. After he died, this game was left over. I took it. It is a big, offical game. Staunton pieces, i’m pretty sure. I even have a chess clock. So today i set up the game. I made one of the openings i do know. One of the most well known ones: e4 – e5. These are the first moves of the Open Games. One of the rules of chess is to make as many pieces active. The center is more valuable than the sides. So these two moves are excellent starting moves. White moves its pawn from e2 to e4. It gives its bishop and queen moving space. It also sets up its pawn in the center, looking to d5 and f5. Black does the same with the same advantages. Opening up the game and the most important game pieces – knights, bishops and queeen – is the target of the opening game.
I still haven’t found anyone to play with. But i enjoy this game, even though i’m still terrible at it. I will let the chessboard stand on my table for a while. Read wikipedia about all the different aspects of chess. And maybe, one day, i will meet someone to play with. Or find some place online. You never know!
The first time i fell in love was on base school. A new boy entered the school. I was in the sixth grade, twelve years old. He lived in the same street as me, but a lot closer to the city center. I walked past his house and looked up at it. I never saw him there. Nor do i remember ever talking to him.
On holidays with my parents in Tenerife. I met many people there. One of them was a boy who i really liked. I was thirteen years old. I never spoke with him. But friends there said something to me about it. So it must have been obvious.
The guy at school wearing new wave clothes, with his hair short and spiky. He had a girlfriend. But the one time he broke up with her, he asked me out. We went to a gig in a place in Vlaardingen. I said nothing to him. I was so shy. Sitting across from someone smoking pot i was mesmerized by it. Of course that was the only night we went out. Later on i did talk to him. We kissed a bit. He came by my house once or twice. We kissed and touched each other. We both went to the Technical University Delft. But it was over. After i left to go to art school i never saw him again.
A young man in Delft, studying Industrial Design like me, was gorgeous. Absolutely lovely. I stared at him. Not sure i was in love. But he was so nice to look at. So that is what i did.
Marcel, who also studied together with me, said that he felt surprised that he didn’t feel attracted to me. I was sitting on his bed and we were talking about music mostly. We went to a couple of gigs together. For one in Rotterdam he came by my place. My mother and me made pizza. He said he had forgotten i still lived with my parents.
The guy who winked at me. I fell for him like that. Ooh man, i was smitten!
In art school i remember having a talk with one of our teachers. He was quite young, late twenties. He asked me what i wanted. I said to find someone to love and who would love me – if i remember correctly. It was a magic moment. One of my friends pulled me away from there. I went back home. The next week when i came into his class, i saw him turning all red in the face. Nothing ever happened between us.
After art school, at the end of the theatrical evening of Sexposition, a man called Bart asked me come to his place. He said he asked a mutual friend before. I was a bit drunk. I said yes. He said he was curious about my reaction just before i got into his bed. A waterbed. Strange sensation, but it felt great. We kissed a bit. Of course i fell in love. I came by once or twice after that. He wasn’t in love with me.
While i was still in love with him, Ben came by. At a Christmas dinner party in my place, i ended with a small group of friends and started to read fairy tales. I remember him looking at me. At a New Years Party we started kissing. A friend tried to get me away, she felt he wasn’t good enough for me. But i didn’t listen. Not sure she was right anyway. He was the first and only man i had sex with. I wasn’t all over my ears in love with him, but i liked him. He had a daughter, a little girl. That was difficult. It lasted around two months, than we decided it wasn’t going anywhere.
I didn’t like it when he went out with his neighbour living across him in a few weeks time. That did hurt. I also left other friends in that time. I went on my last proper vacation with a friend. Crete, in Greece. Three weeks walking, camping with a tent. That was a good holiday. Not that i liked everything that happened, but well, it was fine. After the holiday i left all my friends. A bit abrupt. A bit sudden, but i felt our friendship was going towards its end. Their reaction, or rather lack of reaction to me having a boyfriend did have something to do with it.
In 1999 i fell in love with Jeroen. He had emailed me about my website. He really liked it. He lived in Rotterdam. We met. I got to know other people doing creative stuff on the internet. It was so nice. We also got to know people working in Amsterdam, but we felt the Rotterdam bunch were much better. Of course.
Jeroen was in love with somebody else. Over the next years we kissed a bit. We spend some nights sleeping together, but we never had sex. With Jeroen i felt very sexual in my dreams. But that was only when i was alone. I didn’t feel that when i was actually with him.
Jeroen got a girlfriend years later. And two children. My best friend Femke had moved to Brussels. I felt alone. The only thing i had was work. I bought a new computer. And started to play World of Warcraft. One time a friend called me up, it must have been 2007. I asked her to call me back the next day, since i was in a raid and was really busy. I called her back the next day myself, left a message on the answering machine. But she never responded. Only a few months later, when i got the birth card for her little girl, i realized she was gonna tell me she was pregnant.
I was out. No friends. Work. And World of Warcraft.
Seven years of being by myself, playing World of Warcraft, loosing my job and going freelance. Not working on my website lfs.nl. Something which was always in the back of my mind. But becoming less and less important. I don’t even remember what i was thinking about these years. I was watching a lot downloads, that i know. Many television series.
I don’t know why the sledgehammer moment occurred. This little crush on someone who worked at the place i was working at the time, for a couple of months. But i moved it away quickly. To replace it with another crush. I don’t know why. I remember feeling so awake while i was sitting in the train on my way to work. Looking at all the people surrounding me. I remember talking to this guy with the Rubik’s cube the whole trip back to Rotterdam. I wrote about it on lfs.nl, in hey.
I just read My boyfriend. I do feel what i am writing now makes more sense. It is so easy to not be clear. To hide behind make believe stories. Stories i believe in myself. Which are not true.
It is so hard to be honest. First and foremost, with yourself. Then the rest can follow more easily.
It is 2017. I have been working on this website for over two years. I love it. Not that i like all the things i do here. I definitely have favourite posts. And posts i don’t like. Posts i leave behind.
I have been working in the garden for a year now. I got to know so many new people. Most are younger than me. All fighting to do something good. For themselves, for their food, for social contacts, for Rotterdam. For this world.
Right now i am not in love with anybody. I am still fighting with my sexual desires. They did stay. In the time i was alone, i hardly felt sexual. But together with that sledgehammer moment my desires surfaced once again. That is a battle. A pleasurable one. I still feel shame, i still want to control myself. My fantasies are changing the whole time. Growing more lifelike. I do feel happy with that.
Looking back on my life, i see i took a long time growing up. A long time to open up towards people around me. Which is still hard for me. I like being alone. Not many things have happened to me. I never had children. Only one boyfriend, which only lasted for two months. I spend years alone, by myself.
I am serious and careful. I take my time thinking about stuff that happens to me. Things people say to me. Strangers sometimes. But most of all the people i know.
So this is my life, for now. And i love it.
I can say i am happy. Right now, in my rather lonesome, money poor life. Terribly happy. Most of the time i smile when i go out to the garden, or out for the market, or for a quick run to the supermarket, or for a walk. I do enjoy watching the people walking by me. Some see that. But many don’t. I don’t mind.
So yeah, love. Hmmm. I still wish to experience that. To meet someone who is nice, intelligent, creative. Someone who has lived his own life.
I still have hope.
Yesterday, Sunday, i did work hard in the garden. This whole Monday i felt my arms, my shoulders and my legs. And no, i hardly slept last night. So i got back in bed this afternoon.
So this is it for today. A slow second Eastern day, as we have here in the Netherlands. I’m gonna leave it a that.
I just watched the last part of La La Land. I tried yesterday, but the movie stopped so many times, i stopped. I did cry during the last bit. I do really like it. About young people, who fall in love, who want to make it work for themselves, who want to make an impression on the world. Who slide away from each other. And end up in an different world. And i do like both actors playing the leading parts, Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling.
Also a piece from brainpickings.org: How to Tell a True Tale: Neil Gaiman on What Makes a Great Personal Story.
The strange thing about Moth stories is that none of the tricks we use to make ourselves loved or respected by others work in the ways you would imagine they ought to. The tales of how clever we were, how wise, how we won, they mostly fail. The practiced jokes and the witty one-liners all crash and burn up on a Moth stage.
Honesty matters. Vulnerability matters. Being open about who you were at a moment in time when you were in a difficult or an impossible place matters more than anything.
Having a place the story starts and a place it’s going: that’s important.
Telling your story, as honestly as you can, and leaving out the things you don’t need, that’s vital.
The Moth connects us, as humans. Because we all have stories. Or perhaps, because we are, as humans, already an assemblage of stories. And the gulf that exists between us as people is that when we look at each other we might see faces, skin color, gender, race, or attitudes, but we don’t see, we can’t see, the stories. And once we hear each other’s stories we realize that the things we see as dividing us are, all too often, illusions, falsehoods: that the walls between us are in truth no thicker than scenery.
Once more, a deep bow, and salute!
Today, Eastern Sunday, there were five people in the garden. One was a bit sick. But we worked so hard! I only just got home, around 20:15.
We did start out with coffee and some Eastern chocolate eggs. I showed Daniël the nasturtium seeds i bought yesterday. He made a plan for the day. Seed the carrots, weed and then seed pumpkins. Daniël pruned some hedges around. He also put one pole for the new greenhouse in the ground and planted the remainder of the broad beans in the other side of the garden. Farouk dug out the rest of the ground for the greenhouse. Me and Ben did the carrots. Five rows. First we made the clumps of clay a little bit smaller. Than i dug out the five rows. Ben put some compost in the rows. I mixed the seeds with the compost, so it would be easier to seeds everything. Then Ben followed after me putting a bit more compost over the seeded rows.
I walked to the Rotte to fill all the water cans i could find. I took Daniël’s cargo bike. After watering all the new seeded plants Rombout came by too. We divided all the new tomato plants we got a week ago and put those into little pots, two by two. The rest we put in the larger pot back again.
And then Julien had some couscous salad with him! I was really hungry. We all were. So that felt like a small party around the garden table.
And now i’m really tired. So i’m typing this, i will add the photos i made and then i go sit on the couch and watch the rest of La La Land, which i started seeing yesterday. Hopefully i will fall asleep easy this evening. I feel my entire body, so fingers crossed!
Ooh, and the nasturtium seeds i took back home. I will seed these in small pots and plant them out when they are around ten centimeters tall. Will do that tomorrow.
bring out the Bigot from inside the Liberal
and conversely to
bring out the Liberal from inside the Bigot
Gilbert & George were already very prolific when i went to art school, in 1986. I became a fan. I must have seen their work on the trip to Berlin, Germany in the first year. Mönchengladbach, Düsselforf, Keulen, Berlin. Not sure this was right for this trip, but these names have stuck in my mind. There was a great museum park with small buildings and sculptures and the most wonderful lunch you can imagine. I searched for it just yet, but it is hard to find. There was also a place in Düsseldorf, the musea in Cologne and then of course the musea in Berlin. Still divided in two. One day we did go to East Berlin, through Checkpoint Charlie. There was a restaurant where we had a bite to eat, with more than half closed of. It was a different world. A different time.
But, i’m sure there were some of Gilbert & George‘s works hanging around. In 1989 i wrote something about them. It doesn’t say for which section this was. Most likely it was for art history. The only section for which we had to write something.
After i finished school, when i went to work. I left art behind me. It was a world in which i wasn’t that interested anymore. I guess. Even when i started working on the internet, i wasn’t thinking about art, wasn’t reading that many books about it. So when i moved to London and lived there for around seven months, i didn’t realize i lived so close to Gilbert & George. I do remember one time, when i was sitting in a pub in Spitalfields Market, that they walked past. Someone one pointed them out. And i did see them, walking by.
I will write more about Gilbert & George. This post is about my memories, about something i wrote, about where i lived when i stayed in London. The next piece will be about their work.
A walk along the Essenburgsingel. Essentially the same i made August 2016. This time i walked into the Spoortuin from the start of the Essenburgsingel. I could hear some boys playing up above the path between the trees. I met two people walking their dogs. And in the vegetable garden area i met Mark, who was watering his plants. I surprised him with my knowledge of the plants standing around. Wilma walked by and she and Mark had along conversation about medicines, Dutch healthcare, man, children, my slight chubby figure, my age ( a big surprise to Mark, who said he thought i was 36 🙂 ) until i checked out fatigued with the two voices talking to each the whole time. Phew! 🙂
On i walked to the Educatieve Tuin Essenburgsingel. Luckily it was open this time. Some people were working in there. A woman was planting broad beans. One of the gardeners did know about the fire which destroyed our greenhouse. I picked a few wild garlic leaves.
On towards home. Two and a half hours later. A quick visit to the supermarket and then home again. Just in time for Escape to the Country. I had bought myself some chocolate. I couldn’t resist.
Then at 17:50 hours it was time for the program Geloof en een Hoop Liefde. In which there was a 8 minute piece about our garden. Yes!
My eldest sister was my icon when i was younger. She is beautiful, slender, she loves music, she had boyfriends, she went out loads. She is eight and a half years older than me. Almost all the music i knew in the 70s i got to know through her. Well, apart from the singles i bought. Those were Top 40 singles, which i saw most of the time in TopPop, on television each week.
So yes, Steely Dan, Little Feat, Crosby Stills Nash and Young, Linda Ronstadt, Jackson Brown, J.J. Cale, Ry Cooder and of course… The Eagles.
I loved the Eagles until my taste in music changed and i got full into new wave. Post punk it is called nowadays. I remember doing a lecture about the Eagles with a friend in most likely the third class in high school. Later on though they got lower and lower on my appreciation ladder. At last they vanished all together. A year ago when the song Hotel California got to number one in the Top 2000, a yearly event in the Netherlands, i was quite angry. Not the Eagles! No no no no.
A few weeks ago i made a slight turn. Not that the Eagles will ever be on my favorite band list, but a little bit of appreciation would be in place. I did spend several years listening to their music. I still have three albums: the very first untitled one, On The Border and Hotel California. The other ones i had, Desperado and One of These Nights, i sold when i was around sixteen years old. Among many others, a decision i learned to regret a couple of years after it.
So yes, not the best band, not the best song. But still a song whose lyrics i know by heart. So here it goes!
Hotel California – The Eagles
On a dark desert highway, cool wind in my hair
Warm smell of colitas rising up through the air
Up ahead in the distance I saw a shimmering light
My head grew heavy and my sight grew dim
I had to stop for the night
There she stood in the doorway, I heard the mission bell
Then I was thinking to myself this could be Heaven or this could be Hell
Then she lit up a candle and she showed me the way
There were voices down the corridor I thought I heard them say
“Welcome to the Hotel California
Such a lovely place
(Such a lovely place)
Such a lovely face
Plenty of room at the Hotel California
Any time of year
(Any time of year)
You can find it here”
Her mind is Tiffany twisted, she got the Mercedes Benz
She got a lot of pretty, pretty boys that she calls friends
How they dance in the courtyard, sweet summer sweat
Some dance to remember, some dance to forget
So I called up the captain, “Please bring me my wine”
He said, “We haven’t had that spirit here since 1969”
And still those voices are calling from far away
Wake you up in the middle of the night just to hear them say
“Welcome to the Hotel California
Such a lovely place
(Such a lovely place)
Such a lovely face
They’re living it up at the Hotel California
What a nice surprise
(What a nice surprise)
Bring your alibis”
Mirrors on the ceiling, the pink champagne on ice
And she said, “We are all just prisoners here of our own device”
And in the master’s chambers they gathered for the feast
They stab it with their steely knives but they just can’t kill the beast
Last thing I remember I was running for the door
I had to find the passage back to the place I was before
“Relax,” said the night man, “We are programmed to receive
You can check out any time you like but you can never leave”
What do you wish for most?
The world right now, in 2017, is ruled by people with greed. Greed for power, greed for money, greed for sex. They hardly feel any constraint in succumbing to their wishes. They have infected the entire world with this selfish desire. The Asian world. The African world.
I know there are also many people trying to do good. Working hard for the animals, for the people, for the children, for the plants and trees. But they are continuously limited and restrained by governments and news outlets.
So my first, biggest and ultimate wish is for power structure of money to change. To let it fall to pieces. To give people something to believe in, something to work for, something to fight for. Something new. A new faith.
Who would you most like to be?
What is your definition of happiness?
Happiness is to wake up each and every day with a curiosity for new things and a desire to live fully. To talk with people all over the world, work hard, have a good meal with friends, relax a little, make a walk, work in the vegetable garden, swim in the ocean and sleep with your loved one.
What is your definition of unhappiness?
Being all alone in this world, with nobody to talk with, nobody to have diner with, nobody to hug, nobody to kiss, nobody to sleep with.
This does remind me a bit of my life as it is right now. I am alone now, a lot. The garden is the only social group i hang out with. My life right now is between happiness and unhappiness. I am working hard now though. And my mind is geared towards the future. So i wouldn’t call myself unhappy. Not yet anyway!
What was the most interesting thing that ever happened to you?
Making my drawings on 8 February 1986. I finally gave these drawings to Green Gartside, 5 February 2016. I had given these drawings away twice earlier. Both times i received them back. I remember looking at these drawings once i had made them. Feeling a bit puzzled. Not sure what i had made. It has become clearer over time.
What was the worst thing that you ever did?
One time when i was around thirteen years old, a school friend had an accident in front of my house. She came into my house and we helped her. On our way to school i left her. I was afraid to be too late at school. Terrible thing that was. Regretted it ever since.
Another event was a vacation with a school friend. I called her the day we left, going with the train from the Netherlands to Italy. She didn’t reply. I was upset and went over to her house. As it turned out, i was calling the wrong number. But it never got right after that. After a week or so we had a huge fight. After that i went back home, alone. Terrible.
What makes life worth living for you?
Hmmm. Life is difficult for me now. Lack of money mostly. Apart from that, i’m perfectly happy. I work in the garden, two days a week. I have my blog, whith five updates each week. I haven’t missed one yet, in the more than two years i’m working on it. I do my walks. I listen to music. I watch movies. I read. I love all that.
What would make life unliveable for you?
I still have a dream that i can make it. With this website, ellenpronk.com, i could somehow generate some income. I wouldn’t mind becoming famous. Like Gilbert & George for example. I’m reading books about them now, so they are in my consciousness. I still feel it is possible. But it is getting close to failing miserably. Still, even if it does fail, i will need to look out for an alternative. But i can’t do that right now. I need to be focused on succeeding.
Getting back to my life as it was three years ago, that would be terrible. Unliveable. Yes.
These questions were asked by Gilbert & George to a number of youths in the movie The World of Gilbert & George (1981). When i read these questions in the book The Art of Gilbert & George, i immediately thought that i really want to ask these questions to myself.