text by BeaG

BG 235 – Between

We Dutch sometimes use the word ‘between’ in strange ways.

For example, we say, ‘Ouch, I got my fingers between the door!’
‘Between the door’ and then what…? I assume between the door and the door frame, but we don’t say that.
And when we get our fingers ‘between the drawer’ (also painful!), we obviously mean between the drawer and the cabinet where it slides in.
Our fumbling with the word ‘between’ here seems to be in line with our fumbling with the aforementioned doors and drawers.

Another example: recently, a news item listed how often something had happened ‘between 2021 and 2022’. Uh, between 2021 and 2022…? There’s absolutely nothing in between! As usual, those years fit together seamlessly.
Just like you can’t do something ‘between Tuesday and Wednesday’. There is nothing in between there either. You probably mean that you’re going to do that either on Tuesday or on Wednesday, or maybe even in the night from Tuesday to Wednesday.

And then we have the curious ‘between the afternoon’. Although that sounds very strange, it is correct Dutch. But between the afternoon and then what…? We mean around lunchtime, so between morning and afternoon, around 12:00-13:00, but we say ‘between the afternoon’. Weird right?

More logical ways to use the word ‘between’ are: at a moment after the first mentioned time – but before the next; or in a place with something or someone on one side and something or someone else on the other side; or in a place in the middle of or surrounded by, for example, people or trees; or in comparative expressions such as ‘the difference between a table and a chair’, or ‘sitting between two fires’ (having to choose between two unpleasant possibilities). Yes, that explanation stands ‘between brackets’.

BG 234 – What would you like to drink, darling?

As was often the case on Friday mornings, I sat at a table in a local catering establishment, where they served – only during the day – tea, coffee and other drinks, various types of pastries, and also a small assortment of sandwiches. Most customers came there mainly to have a leisurely chat.
That morning a young mother came in with two small children. She had left a stroller outside and, with one child on her hip and the other with a little arm wrapped around her leg, went looking for a high chair. She found one, and luckily she got help from one of the other customers to place the thing at a free table for her. She put the smallest child in it, who, after being freed from her little jacket, immediately stuck her thumb in her mouth and began to look around with big eyes. Then she tried to convince the other child, a little boy, whom she had stripped of his jacket with a little more effort, to climb onto a chair himself. He didn’t want to know about that. He started whining and mom had to pick him up and put him on the chair.
When she had hung her own coat over the back of her chair and had also sat down, the owner of the business, Annie, came standing next to her with a notepad and a pen to take her order. She wanted a coffee please, she said. And then she turned to the little boy, who was perhaps just three years old, and asked, ‘What would you like to drink, darling?’
When the boy did not answer immediately, she turned to the little girl, who was certainly not more than a year old: ‘And you, darling, what would you like to drink?’
I watched the scene from a distance, somewhat surprised and amused.
The mother kept asking her children …

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BG 231 – Inventions

Until now, most of humanity’s great inventions have aimed to kill as many other people as possible from a safe distance. Let’s change that and henceforward come up with inventions to stop the climate catastrophe and give our planet a chance to recover. As far as I’m concerned, that may include an invention that ensures that fewer people are born, instead of more being killed.

BG 229 – Inspiration

As a writer (and also as an artist, designer and maker) you are often asked:
‘Where do you get your inspiration from?’ or ‘Where do you get your ideas from?’
As if there is some obscure website, a hidden beach, or an inconspicuous supermarket where you can ‘get’ inspiration and ideas.

At first, I was puzzled by such questions.
What do you mean, where do I get my inspiration from? It just IS there and has always been there. Isn’t that the case with other people, then? For as long as I can remember, my (un)consciousness has been filled with all kinds of creative ideas that demand to be worked out at some point, for example into a short story, an essay, or a poem. I don’t have to ‘get’ my inspiration somewhere.

I think writers are mostly perceptive people, who read a lot and who are interested in a lot of things. Who use their senses well and take in a lot of the world around them. Who see the humor or, for example, the wonder in small events that other people barely pay attention to. Who live consciously and who love language. And because I don’t have a very good memory, I regularly make a note about something I think I might want to write about one day. Or I come across a web page about a topic that I ‘want to do something with someday’ and …

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BG 219 – Sentence

He had asked her if she had time for a one-on-one conversation with him in his office after the group therapy session and she had thought ‘busy, busy, busy’ and said ‘of course, no problem, I can take a later bus home’, and so there they were now; he got them each a cup of tea and a biscuit, and he asked her what she thought about the session and she said she thought it had been a good one and that a number of participants had benefited a lot from it, especially A and F, and that she had also learned something from it, and he advised her to focus more on her own problems from now on, to which, after she had chewed a bite of her cookie, she asked in surprise what he meant by that, and he explained to her that he had the impression that she had noticed from at least three people at the same time what was going on inside them, how they were feeling, what they were saying, whispering or out loud, and even what they had not yet said, but probably would have liked to say, whereupon she confirmed that this was the case, that she was indeed aware of everything around her, without consciously choosing to do so: for example what was going on in the minds of the others and what emotions they felt, whether suppressed or not, after which she took a sip of her tea, and …

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BG 217 – Umsy Clumbrella

Brrr, rald coin and wing strond…, I can’t wait for the sprutiful beaing!
When the loung yeaves sprout again on the previously trare bees, the scent of flooming blowers hangs in the air and birung yods squeal for food in their neft sosts. When daffow yellodils and tud relips emerge, and daitle litsies and butden goltercups among the fresh grass, and I can walk through them fareboot. I can’t wait for the shin to sune again and the warld to woke up and surround me with scesant pleants and soundful cheers. But nor fow, I struggle with an umsy clumbrella in hoth bands, my closes half eyed against the farizontally holling raizzly drin, and my bapping shog avy around my hearm. Fortunately, I don’t have to snovel show anymore, it is enthuwing thasiastically. But I’m really win up with this numautal fedter!
Does it show?

Translation:

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BG 213 – BeaG Security Token (BST)

Museums have found a new way to make money. They divide paintings into countless – sometimes as many as a million! – virtual pieces (ASTs) and then sell them to the public.
They euphemistically call it ‘democratization of art’. After all, anyone can come into possession of a (tiny) piece of a work of art in this way. Hurrah!
And anyone who buys such a piece – sometimes just a few pixels, representing a minuscule amount of paint on a tiny piece of canvas – becomes co-owner of the work of art. Or actually of a virtual representation of the work of art.

Anyone can now invest in a work of art and from now on call themselves a shareholder. Even those people for whom something like this was previously unthinkable.
As a small shareholder – there is usually a restriction of 5 ASTs per person, to ensure the ‘democratization of art’ – you naturally have hardly any decision-making power regarding …

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BG 211 – Frost Flowers

They have been on the road for over an hour and are only halfway to their destination. It’s cold in the bus, the heating is probably broken again. It often is.
Even the bus driver has replaced his service cap with a warm hat with earflaps.
Fortunately, mom and she are warmly dressed. It is winter and it’s freezing hard outside. Inside, beautiful frost flowers have formed on the windows from the passengers’ frozen breath, turning them into ground glass.
Including the window right next to her.
She glances furtively at her mother for a moment, who is staring, lost in thought.
Then she takes off her thick knitted mittens and turns her warm hands into fists. She presses the side of her right fist against the window until the ice has melted. She then does the same with her left fist, diagonally next to and above the first print. The clear prints resemble little feet, baby feet. She uses her thumbs to make the big toes and the tips of her index fingers to make the rest of the tiny toes.
Satisfied, she looks at her artwork, while quickly putting her hands back into her warm mittens. Now it looks as if a little child has walked through the frost flowers barefooted.
She nudges her mother, ‘Look, mom!’
‘Bah, child! Don’t touch those dirty windows!’
But behind her, another mother friendly whispers between her seat and the window: ‘Nicely done!’

BG 199 – Past perfect tense

– Hey there! Long time no see!
She recognized him. He approaches her table.
He still has that silly haircut and he’s even wearing the exact same jacket.
There are other tables available. She’d rather have stayed seated here alone.
But he’s already grabbed the backrest of the chair opposite her.
– So, I said – you probably didn’t hear me – it’s been a long time!
His face beams with joy.
– Yes.
She answers. That could either refer to that long time or to the fact that she actually heard him.
He dramatically takes off his jacket, hangs it over the chair’s backrest, and sits down, huffing.
– Phew, I’m sitting.
Yes, everyone noticed that. He noisily slides his chair closer to the round tabletop and rests his forearms and elbows on it.
– Gosh, that I run into you here!
Just a little too loud, like in the old days. Not only meant for her, but …

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BG 194 – Counting sheep

How on earth can you fall asleep while counting sheep?
If you don’t pay attention, you’ll lose count and have to start all over again!
And because you make those damn beasts up and don’t have to feed them, they are infinite in number. Baa! Baa! Baa!
That way you’ll never fall asleep, right? Argh!

BG 193 – Auda Cious

Auda Cious and her brothers Cons and Injudi are attending primary school.
They are being raised strictly at home and have learned that they not only should not put up a big mouth against adults, but they shouldn’t talk to them at all. Instead, they’re supposed to go play quietly somewhere and not bother the adults.
But Auda doesn’t understand what’s so ‘bothersome’ about a harmless conversation and why she can’t be a part of the same world as the adults. After all, she’s supposed to become one herself someday, right?

Auda assumes that the teachers at school are an exception to this rule. She’ll have to answer if they ask her a question. Oh wait, but that’s right, she can – actually, she must – answer if an adult asks her a question! But she has to be careful with what she says because not everything that happens or is said at her home is meant for other people’s ears.

For her age, she has a pretty good sense of when she can or cannot speak an answer aloud. Nevertheless, she finds it difficult …

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BG 189 – A thriller in 33 words

He had slept blissfully deep and blinked his eyes against the bright light.
When he tried to turn with satisfaction, he noticed his wrists were bound.
Startled, he looked into an evil face.

BG 187 – Ajam and her Oriental rugs

The road through Ajam’s village on the dry plateau is a soft and colorful carpet almost all year round. Literally.
Ajam’s mother runs the local carpet workshop, where carpets in many different designs, colors and sizes are woven or knotted by hand by women and children.
Her mother told her that some of the most intricate designs have been made the same way for hundreds of years.
And when they’re done, Ajam helps spread the carpets out on the sandy road, so their colors can fade in the bright sunlight.
The villagers walk over the carpets. And they even let their donkeys and goats walk over them. Ajam and her friends play on the carpets, and the boys from the village play football on them.
And every now and then a car or a motorcycle drives through the village, also over the colorful carpets.
About once a week …

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BG 184 – Changed forever

They changed it, the sidewalk
in front of their house. They
put up a little bookcase there,
their ‘Little Free Library’.

Therewith they have changed
the experience of walkers and
cyclists on that sidewalk forever.
Henceforth those will think, whether

they like it or not, of books,
of reading, of shall I or shall
I not, of I’m actually in a hurry,
and I have no bag with me.

Or of: …

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BG 182 – Sex education

Some parents worry that school sex education leads to premature sex.
But I have never met parents who are afraid that their child will put into practice other things that they have been taught at school.

For example, they never seem to worry about their child starting to speak French as a result of French class, starting to help them with their tax returns after math class, starting to apply the laws of logic correctly after physics class (oops, sorry mom!), or starting to learn to play the piano after music lessons.

In fact, having a teacher (yuck!) explain sex to them, does not make it more attractive to them and rather causes them to put it off a little longer.

BG 180 – Have a nice day!

As they checked the last messages on his phone, before erasing them and setting the device aside to later give it to a niece or nephew who didn’t have one yet – after all, grandfather had been buried and no longer needed it himself, and they were engaged in the emotionally demanding task of sifting through some sixty years of collected items in his cluttered little retirement home and deciding what to divide among themselves, what to take to the thrift store, and what to the container park – they saw that the last message he had received while alive was from his granddaughter Maddie. It read ‘Have a nice day, grandpa!’ They were touched. Maddie was only six years old, had just learned to read and write, and had only had her first phone for a month.

Three weeks later, at the end of a fun day at school, Maddie said goodbye to her classmates before going home. She had first taken her friend Joris aside and solemnly wished him ‘Have a nice day, Joris!’, to which Joris had said with a smile ‘Thank you!’; after all, the day had already largely passed and she had looked so unusually serious. He watched her as she hopped away.
The next day Joris did not come to school. …

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BG 176 – Weather experts

If there is one thing we can say with certainty about the weather, especially in small countries with a temperate maritime climate like the Netherlands and Belgium, it is that it is unpredictable.
It is therefore admirable that meteorologists, like other deities, inspire great confidence in their followers, though they are seldom correct in their predictions.
You would expect that their constant blunders would cost them their jobs, but nothing could be further from the truth: they remain as popular as ever.
So is the weather forecast, which despite, or precisely because of, all its misses remains a never-ending source of conversation for many people.

BG 174 – SAI Search

She sits at her computer and types in the search window: ‘google search’
And gets the answer: [Unknown.]
‘I want to use google search, but I can’t find it on my pc anymore’
[But BeaG, that’s not necessary, after all, you now have SAI Search.]
‘oooookaaaay….’
[What do you want to know?]
‘fireman’
[We don’t use the word fireman anymore, BeaG.]
‘fireman!’
[Firefighters can be either male or female or both or neuter.]
[And you really can’t extinguish fires with that little attached hose.]
‘what goddammit is the definition of a fireman?’ …

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BG 171 – All the times I missed you

That time when I was at that party, had just fetched two drinks and moved through the teeming mass of people with the drinking glasses at head height, while I thought I heard my name being called out somewhere in the crowd, but wasn’t sure, and I had to keep my attention while I maneuvered to the right spot, where a female friend was waiting for me, without spilling.
Or that time in the supermarket, when I had collected everything I needed in my shopping cart and I joined the queue for one of the cash registers, checking my watch to see if I would still be on time for my next appointment and then pulled out my debit card to pay with, so I didn’t see that you tried to get my attention from the queue in front of another checkout.
Or that time in the cinema, when, just before the film started, I was having an intense conversation with a good friend and we were almost bent over to hear each other better, just before the room lights went out and we were being urged to silence by the people around us (shhhh!), after which you became invisible like everyone else.
Or that time in the woods, when I …

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BG 167 – 100 Words Fiction

Her brother

A girl and her grandmother are at the cash register in the store.
Cashier: ‘So your brother has been admitted again?’
Girl: ‘Yes. Unfortunately.’
Cashier: ‘But he is used to it, isn’t he? Well, I mean, he has been there before.’
‘He has to stay there,’ the girl says, shrugging her narrow shoulders.
Cashier: ‘Give my regards to your mother.’
Grandma: ‘We will do that.’
Girl: ‘He doesn’t mind. Well, he does mind, but he is used to it. He has to stay.’
Cashier: ‘That is unfortunate. Well, goodbye now!’
The girl cheerfully hops after her grandmother: ‘Bye!’

BG 164 – Trigger warning

Trigger Warning: please note, this piece contains content that may cause a strong reaction in readers who are sensitive to it.
So you have been warned!
And triggered…
Damn it, god damn it, typhus!
Good thing I already warned you about that…
What’s wrong with strong reactions during reading anyway?

BG 162 – Fertility

All over the world, sperm counts in men are rapidly declining. That is, if you forget for a moment that it is a sign that men are also generally becoming unhealthier, good news!
After all, our planet is overpopulated and we want to do something about it. But we can’t play god and decide who can or can’t have children and how many.
So, hooray, men are becoming less fertile en masse!
With a bit of luck, this will also boost the emancipation of women!
After all, many women really do have better things to do than be pregnant, bear children, and change diapers.
And, let’s face it, most women never had the inténtion to get married to, let alone spend the rest of their lives with, that man who accidentally managed to get them pregnant.

BG 161 – Detour

Belgians claim they are ‘born with a brick in their stomach’. By which they mean that they are always building, rebuilding and renovating. This applies not only to their houses, but also to their roads.
Despite this, the Belgians seem unable to make proper roads.

I come from the Netherlands, where the roads are much better and where there is also a safe and extensive cycle path network. That is why many Belgians who enjoy cycling or motorcycling regularly travel to the Netherlands. As a Dutch person, the deplorable state of the Belgian roads therefore strikes me even more.

We, for example, live in a street that is covered with cobblestones (in Dutch also referred to as ‘children’s heads’). They are probably intended to slow down traffic, after all, the maximum speed here is 30 km/h, but that doesn’t help, because …

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BG 158 – The new year

I am already getting used to the new year. I no longer accidentally think I’m still living in 2022. I put last year’s mess in the trash and kept the nice things. I have thrown away worthless stuff and stored what I can reuse in my warehouse full of possibilities. I cherish the positive and leave the negative behind (but first I learn lessons from it). Just like unimaginably large galaxies and microscopic small atoms I keep moving, as a small part of the immensely large and sometimes intimately small whole, as long as I still have some time, strength and energy left. Despite progressive wear and tear, I hope I will be allowed to experience some more new years. Together with the expansive, overwhelmingly beautiful, mysterious, unique, and sometimes oppressively heavy world around me and within me – I kick against, sink my teeth into, invent, create, wrap my arms around, and gently love the year 2023.

BG 157 – Too honest

In the early morning she had left by public transport, from her hometown in the north of the Netherlands on her way to the Mediapark in Hilversum, to audition for the tv quiz The Weakest Link.

(In it, candidates take turns answering questions at a rapid pace that are asked by a so-called strict female presenter. Before being asked a question, each candidate can press the button and shout ‘bank’ to secure the amount the team has accumulated so far. In case of an incorrect answer, the counter goes back to zero. The longer the chain of correctly answered questions, the higher the amount to be banked. At the end of each round of questions, the candidates write down and read aloud who they think was the weakest link in that round. The presenter humorously embarrasses a candidate here and there and then asks one or more of them why they voted for that particular person. They are supposed to give an original and witty answer. The one with the most votes is eliminated – ‘With four votes you are… The Weakest Link! Goodbye!’ – and then has to leave the game in shame through the center of the circle. The next round is therefore played with one less candidate. The last two candidates standing will play against each other to ultimately win the accumulated amount of money.)

The journey was long and tiring, but she arrived in time. After she had registered at the reception desk, she was handed a stack of papers and a ballpoint pen and shown the way to a canteen, where dozens of people, alone or in groups, were already seated around big round tables. She had to write down answers to all kinds of questions…

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BG 152 – Women are better

Women are better!
No, not better than men (just as men are not better than women), but women are better, much better, than they think they are.
Most men overestimate themselves, while most women underestimate themselves. And that perpetuates the imbalance of power between men and women.
If women realized what talents they have, what capabilities they have and what their possibilities are, they could give their lives more meaning, find more fulfillment, be more independent and happier.
They could stop self-effacing, keeping quiet for the sake of peace, and putting up with unfair situations, whether private, social, or at work.
Women are better, much better, than they realize.

(I am aware that not every person feels that they fit into the male or female category and I respect that, but that is not the subject here.)

BG 148 – Populist politicians

The political debate was once a – combative – exchange of points of view and arguments of representatives of the people in order to reach agreement in the interests of the people. Nowadays it seems to be a stage for megalomaniac narcissists to present themselves to their followers.

Populists are people who manipulate you (frighten and reassure you) for their own sake and for their own popularity, through lies. Fortunately, democracy doesn’t end when populist leaders tell untruths. Most of the politicians and journalists just keep doing what they are supposed to do and keep refuting. This also gives the people the opportunity to pierce through shameless inaccuracies.

It is not out of malice that people …

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BG 142 – Sentence

She had her mind set on it and she couldn’t help but think she would and had to buy them, even if she had to first save up for it for months, and I just didn’t understand, and then she didn’t understand me in return, in an angry way, and I couldn’t understand why she wanted to make herself disabled deliberately, wanted to make herself vulnerable, why she wanted to limit herself so that she couldn’t get away quickly if she had to, why she would choose to not be able to walk or stand without staggering and without pain, and she thought that was utter nonsense, why from now on she would only want to walk on uneven paving stones holding onto the arm of someone else, probably a handsome man, which seemed like a good idea to her, and why she felt that she would be much more attractive if she forced her body into an unnatural position, but she thought it was not that bad; and why on earth she wanted to appear four inches taller, because what was wrong with her own height and posture, she thought herself too small and too unnoticed; and I simply couldn’t understand why she was willing to deal with that discomfort and pain, why she would from now on after going out throw those things into a corner, cursing and tending to her latest blisters and wounds over and over again, but she thought that was ridiculous because greatly exaggerated; and I just couldn’t understand why she was willing to spend so much money on things that were bad for her body: for her feet, her joints, her back vertebrae and neck vertebrae; because they were so beautiful, she claimed; and I just couldn’t understand why she thought she would get all the attention she craved, and she thought that was a stab in the back, if from now on she were to squeeze her feet into overpriced shoes with sky-high stiletto heels; and what on earth was wrong with that, she asked, and why I was bothering with it, she asked angrier, and I asked her what on earth was wrong with just being able to walk without pose and pain, and what was wrong with feeling comfortable in your own body and with facing people, men, without unnecessary vulnerability and submission, to face them strongly and proudly instead; but I guess she didn’t hear me anymore.

BG 141 – The Swing Realm

‘Not too high on that swing!’ shouted an unfamiliar male voice behind her. But she didn’t care. The construction creaked every now and then, but it was able to support her almost mature body just fine. With her hands tightly wrapped around the rough ropes, sitting on the smooth-worn oak plank, she swung her legs straight forward and hanging in the ropes with the wind through her hair she went higher and higher.
At the highest point she felt for a moment like her intestines made a little jump, then she swung back down again. Past the lowest point she pulled her feet up toward the plank. High up at the back she hung motionless for a split second before whizzing forward again with even more speed and stretched legs, pulling on the ropes.

She went higher and higher. She felt like she was flying, like she was being released from the ground, from this playground, from her old neighborhood, from her narrow minded home.
Woohoo! Higher and higher! Forward – stretch, backward – fold.
Stretch – fold, stretch – fold, stretch – fold.
She could already look over the trees in the distance and see miniature houses and tiny cars and tiny people moving.
A sense of ultimate freedom washed over her.

‘Not so high on that swing!’ the same male voice called from behind her. Oh no? …

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