Monday, September 21, 2015

A proper goodbye

It's been over a year since we moved from Belgium, and I never took the time to write this one final post. Shame on me. Let's fix that, shall we?

In the past year, the passing of time has been grinding our lives like the vast glaciers that carved out the Norwegian fjords millions of years ago. I've been cut, ground up and scattered to the winds, but somehow I'm still here to write my proper goodbye. My epilogue. Our epitaph.

2010-2014, the years I spent in Belgium, were some of the happiest years of my life. I was lucky enough to spend them with someone I loved, in a country I eventually learned to love, warts and all.

I explored the country. Made new friends and acquaintances. I lived and breathed a new culture, a new nation, a new people. It changed me in uncountable ways.

Most importantly, those years gave me a son. He is everything to me now. My life belongs to him, and it's the most beautiful life I could imagine living.

We decided to move back to Norway last spring. There was much hesitation, much back-and-forth before we made the final call. I had to be convinced that it could work, that Bika would be happy there, in the north, in the cold, in the dark, in a strange land where the people speak a strange language and live their strange ways. I had become comfortable in Belgium, but could she adapt as successfully to Norway? She'd tried it once before, and it hadn't worked out.

Somehow, she convinced me. We packed our most precious belongings into three cars and drove the 3000 km (1,800 mi) from Halle to Malangen.

Ten months later, we were separated. Bika moved back to Belgium, leaving our one-and-a-half-year-old son with me, in the country we'd both decided he would grow up in.

I won't get into more detail here - that's the path to the dark side, and I'm feeling pretty bright today. Suffice to say it's been a rough year. The good news is that my heart's still beating, and where there is life, there is hope, and when there's a will, there's a way. I can close this book and open another. My life has only just begun.

And because I want attention and affirmation, I'm going to keep sharing this life with you, dear readers. We'll meet again, in another time and place. Until then, take good care of each other.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Belgium on the QI Elves podcast

The BBC show QI, hosted by the great Stephen Fry, is one of the most sublime unions of entertainment and knowledge in television history. Recently, an equally fantastic appendage to the "quniverse" came into being: No Such Thing As A Fish, a weekly podcast packed with quite interesting facts presented by the researchers behind the TV show, the QI Elves.

I heartily recommend the show to any podcast fan out there, or anyone who just loves fun facts. The content is very similar to QI but with a greater level of nerdiness and a higher frequency of facts. In other words, it's the greatest thing ever.

I'm bringing it up here because Belgium has popped up in a couple of recent episodes:

Firstly, episode 13, "No Such Thing As A Funny Nazi", features a guest appearance by Lieven Scheire, Belgium's brainiest comedian who also hosts the QI-esque panel show Scheire en de schepping on VIER. He tells the story of when Nazi Germany employed a pair of state comedians, and explains how dolphins get high.

Lastly, a series of minisodes have been released on the podcast's SoundCloud page. The episodes feature facts related to the countries partaking in the 2014 FIFA World Cup, and you can find the episode on Belgium (versus Algeria) right here. My favorite fact: only 2% of Belgians know the words to their own national anthem.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Red Devil mini-bio: Marouane Fellaini

Marouane Fellaini. (Source)

Midfielder Marouane Fellaini was born in Etterbeek, Brussels in 1987. He began his youth career at Anderlecht at the age of 7. At the age of 17, he signed his first permanent contract with Standard Li├Ęge. He currently plays for Manchester United.

Both of Fellaini's parents are Morroccan. He was eligible to play for either Belgium or Morocco but chose to represent Belgium. He has played for the Belgian national (senior) team since 2007.

Fellaini is known for his heading ability, which allowed him to create the turning point of Belgium's first match at the 2014 World Cup against Algeria. After a lackluster 1st half that saw Algeria in a 1-0 lead after a penalty, Fellaini entered the game as a second-half substitute and scored an equalizing header in the 70th minute. Ten minutes later, Dries Mertens scored the 2-1 goal that secured three vital points for Belgium.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Yes, I know they're Mexican.

Just ahead of Belgium's first apperance at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, here's a song that both takes me to Latin America and has the perfect title for tonight's football experience extravaganza: Rodrigo y Gabriela's "Diablo Rojo" (do I really need to translate?), as performed on Letterman in 2006.

Go Red Devils!