Personal post: my son’s investment

After Jan’s passing, eldest son gifted me with a set of weights and an exercise mat. I’d been contemplating a gym subscription but I just couldn’t seem to take that first step. So, when eldest son asked me what was on my birthday wishlist, I thought I’d ask for stuff for exercising at home. I thought: a mat would do or a pair of dumbbells. I remember expressly pointing out some things that I thought were student-level price. (He was also saving up for his own computer, so I didn’t want him to spend a lot.)

I was rather flabbergasted when the packages arrived. Apparently, he’d done some research and opted for his own (more expensive) choices instead of what I had pointed out to him.

In the first year, I shed a couple of pounds and started to feel stronger. When I flexed my arm, I could feel something that felt like muscle. So I took the plunge and signed up at our local gym. My goal: more muscle definition please and make me stronger.

In times when I’ve wrestled with anxiety, I’ve found that a good workout tends to keep the worst of it bay. I’m able to clear my mind for a while as I focus on just making it through a set number of reps and sets.

Today, I thought back to that time after he got his first job at a local supermarket. I think of the late nights and long hours that he pulled and how that was the year he told me that he didn’t need pocket money anymore. I remember how flabbergasted I was when I realised just how much he’d spent on my birthday present and I remember him saying that I should think of it as him investing in me.

The returns on Joel’s investment have come in as we now use that set each time we workout during the week. It’s fun, it gives some sort of structure to days where hours seem to blend into each other, and I guess I’m vain enough to be pleased that the muscle I’ve gained won’t fade during the lockdown.

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( The 3 kilo dumbbells are a recent addition, and these shoes have been with me since I started working out 5 years ago. I have a 5 kilo disk on my birthday wishlist. I’ve read that weight training is important for women as we grow older as it helps maintain bone density and keeps our joints supple. What I can say is this: five years ago, I couldn’t run up and down the stairs, these days I can.)

In which we are inspired by Ann VanderMeer’s “The Bestiary”

In 2015, Centipede Press released Ann VanderMeer’s “The Bestiary”, for which I wrote an entry. One of the things I enjoyed about this project was creating a small biography of myself as a strange creature. Today, I thought I would ask the kids to write their own strange biography. It was a fun exercise and the kids have given me their permission to post their work here. I hope those who read it will enjoy it too.

The Loenen

The Loenen is a creature that likes to sit behind people’s computers and play videogames. It is very nerdy and ita lso likes model building.

The Loenen is very kind and isn’t aggresive at all; it is naieve which makes it an easy target for hunters. Because of that, it is an endangered species.

It believes that no one would ever do anything bad and always sees the good in people.

The Loenen is very lazy; but it can also be very hyperactive.

Most of the time this creature just stays in other people’s homes and eats their food. It uses technology to do fun things like gaming.

During childhood and adolescence, the Loenen latches onto the back of it’s parents.

However, the Loenen is known to leave the family group earlier than other creatures. Because of it’s adventurous behaviour, it doesn’t like to  stay in the same space for long unless if it has a child or something else.

At death it likes to return to it’s home to die there and to become one with the earth from which he came.

-by Samuel Hendrik Loenen, youngest son-

 

Segnis Joellum

An uncommon, and rarely seen inhabitant of the sprawling suburban ecosystem of Gouda. Segnis Joellum mainly subsists on a diet of information. Segnis Joellum specimen are frequently observed near a computer. This is so that it may access the World Wide Web in search of what it considers “interesting information.” This information usually falls in the categories of aerospace, history and random trivia.

Segnis Joellum usually stores this information, so that it may use this in the defense of its territory. This is done by starting conversations with invading creatures. These conversations will usually start out normal, but when the Segnis Joellum sees its chance. It will try to shift the conversation to one of the many pieces of random information which it may have accrued that day. This will usually result in the opposing creature dying of boredom.

-by Joel Jan Loenen, eldest son-

 

(The Loenen and Segnis Joellum at work.)

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Lockdown and writing with the boys

We were celebrating one of the younger cousin’s birthday, when the announcement went live.

We had been expecting it, of course.

“Well,” said the only other aunt who had showed up. “I suppose this will go down in family history as the Corona birthday party.”

We sat there, sipping our tea and coffee, while Ministers Slob and Bruins made the announcement. The room grew dark as twilight fell.

“A shame,” the other aunt said. “There was sun this morning.”

We made the appropriate sounds of assent and laughed at the sign language for hamsteren (hoarding).

Youngest son showed off a picture he’d made earlier in the day of empty supermarket shelves.

On tv the Minister says all pubs and cafes will be shutdown for at least three weeks; classes are suspended, and any gathering that includes more than your own immediate family is discouraged. And in particular, no visits to the elderly because they are the most vulnerable.

“That’s it then,” sister-in-law said. “So, I guess you should all go home.”

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I found myself thinking of absurdist movies and it may sound strange, but for a moment I couldn’t help but wonder if a director would jump out of somewhere shouting, “Cut”.

Of course, this didn’t happen.

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In the morning, my sons and I walk to the nearest supermarket. We’re out of bread and cheese, and we haven’t got a gigantic freezer or any kind of stockpile.

So, we walk because classes are suspended and I think children (regardless of age) need some sort of physical movement. I also believe that fresh air is good for you.

Already, the youngest son wants to know what’s on the programme for today.

I propose a short piano lesson.

“Not too long,” youngest son says. “Or else I won’t have time for anything else.”

Eldest son scoffs at youngest son’s declaration, but I promise that all we’ll do is learn the second phrase of Fur Elise.

“What about a short writing session in the afternoon?” I ask.

Both boys perk up and look interested.

“Is this going to be like the workshop you’re giving?” eldest son asks.

“Uh,” I look at youngest son. “I’ll have to adjust it a bit, but it might be fun.”

“Why not?” Eldest son says.

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Today we did two small writing exercises. Afterwards, I asked them if they would like to do this again tomorrow.

It looks like we will.