Thursday, March 25, 2010

My five favorite blogs

I have around 100 blogs on my Google Reader, so it's safe to say that I spend a lot of time reading them. A lot of them are more "visual" blogs - fashion, interior, design, cooking blogs. What can I say - I like to look at pretty things.

But there are a handful of blogs on my Google Reader which get me all giddy when I see that they have been updated. Here is a list - maybe you'll find a new favorite blog there too:

Post Secret is an ongoing art project in which people send in their secrets on a post card. I have been reading this blog for about six years now and I support it by buying post secret books for friends and family as gifts. It sounds like a silly blog but it does so much - showing people that they are not alone.

I only started reading Jezebel a few months ago but it's already one of my favorites. It is a feminist website which discusses everything from politics to celebrities and fashion. The discussions remind me of the discussions I used to have with my friends out in Amsterdam. The comments are moderated and to be a commenter you have to "prove yourself" by delivering a few funny, interesting, smart comments. If the moderators like your style (which doesn't have to mean that they agree with your opinion), your comments will be approved and you can become a commenter. This is one of the few politically minded websites where I actually read the comments.

Ok, here is a little secret - I am a nail polish fanatic. And there are lots of us out there. There are even blogs where people take pictures of their nails (I might have been known to do that myself sometimes ...) and post them on their blogs. In fact, there are very many blogs like that. And I have a lot of them on my Google Reader. With most of the blogs, I just look at the pictures. If I really like a color, I will read what people wrote about it. But I almost always read the blog posts on Polish or Perish - a blog written by seven PHD/Masters students who are all nail obsessed like me. They write about nail polish but also about how their studies are going and their personal lives. My favorite is "Kittytokaren" - her name is a Cake reference and at least in the beginning a lot of her blog posts had Cake references in them. And Cake happens to be one of my very favorite bands.

I read a lot of cooking blogs - especially since I started cutting out processed foods and eating organic/locally/seasonally. There is just something comforting about reading cooking blogs. There are never any nasty comments on their posts. The pictures look beautiful. And to see what people cook is like getting a peak into their personal life. The Kitchn is a bit different. It is part of Apartment Therapy (which I read long before I discovered The Kitchn). It's written by several people. It is not a very personal blog. Recipes are only a small part of the posts on The Kitchn. There are posts and video tutorials about how to properly cut onions, how to take a whole chicken apart, how to re-finish cast iron skillets, ... I also love the posts where readers ask a question and the commenters answer - I have learned more about cooking from the comments on The Kitchn (which I have only been reading for about two months) than I learned in my 4 years of home ed classes in high school.

Kimberly Miller is a smart, cute, young actress/writer from New York who posts pictures of everything she eats. That is pretty much it in a nutshell but she also writes about her personal life, her life in New York, her fitness challenges, ... I first started reading her when she was one of the writers of "Elastic Waist" - a blog that unfortunately doesn't exist anymore (if it would, it would be on this list). When Elastic Waist folded (they were sponsored by Self magazine and I guess the magazine was making cuts), all the writers posted their personal websites and that's how I came to read The Kim Challenge. Not only is it interesting to see what other people (who have similar food principles to myself) eat every day but I have also come to really like Kim personally. Yes kids, this is 2010 and now we read peoples blogs and feel like they are our friends even though they might know that we exist.

I know the people who read my blog are not really avid commenters but if you'd like to come out of the lurking status, please let me know what your favorite blogs are! Because my Google Reader is always open for new additions!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

The life of Special K

I still remember meeting my friend Ketil for the first time. I was sitting in Vondelpark in Amsterdam with my friend A who had just gotten me a job in a call center where she was working as well. It was my first real job. It was a sunny day. I felt excited and happy. Ketil worked at the same company I was about to work for. He was walking his bike through Vondelpark, a friend by his side. He stopped and said "hi" to my friend A who was really good friends with Ketils best friend. I thought: Wow, that man is beautiful. But not in a sexual attraction way - I somehow knew immediately that K was into men, even though he was not the kind of man with who you could just "tell". He was nice and had a British accent even though he was Norwegian (I later found out that he had lived in London and that's how he picked up his nearly perfect British English).
Three months passed and my company had a Christmas party. It was at this design-y place that had areas set up like different rooms in an open space. I immediately noticed the "Scandinavian corner" on the black sofas - everybody was wearing black, everybody was smoking and everybody looked incredibly cool. I wanted to be one of them. Of course, Ketil was one of them.
At the end of the night, before I left, K came to me and said "I heard from A that you are really into photography. I am too! Maybe we should take pictures together sometimes!".
And that was the beginning of a really special friendship.
We spent nearly every weekend together - either in the darkroom printing photos, out taking pictures or at a bar or coffee shop, Saturday or Sunday afternoon, drinking beer and smoking. The summers we'd be sitting at the canals and drinking wine and eating cheese and crackers or in Vondelpark, with some of our other friends. Through Ketil I learned that cheese, crackers, wine, tapenade and pate make the perfect meal. He taught me that all you need to be happy is a blanket, sunshine and good company.
A few years after we first started hanging out, we created a little photography club with two other friends. We'd be meeting up every few weeks in the evening to seriously discuss photography but we just ended up drinking a lot and smoking pot and telling each other how incredibly talented we are.
K always knew how to make me feel great. He was the first man who ever made me feel beautiful. He would compliment me constantly. One time he just looked at me and said "Wow, you look JUST like that girl from Lost in Translation" (he meant Scarlett Johansson - I don't look like her but I used to have long, blond hair and I have blue eyes, so it was at least a little bit believable). And whatever he said, it didn't sound phony. It sounded really genuine.
In all those years that we spent so much time together we never once had an argument.

I hadn't seen Ketil in a few years. He left the Netherlands to move to Spain. I missed him so much and even though we tried to meet up a few times in Spain and the Netherlands, something always came up that prevented us from seeing each other.
When I heard that he had died, I was surprised how much I am grieving and how I just can't stop thinking about him.
I haven't really lost a friend before K. So I am not sure how this is supposed to work. Like tonight I am supposed to go out to two parties. Part of me is afraid that I am going to get drunk and won't be able to stop talking about my friend. Another part of me thinks I really need distraction.

All of a sudden it feels like I can remember ever single conversation I had with Ketil. And I am realizing how often I think about him - even before I learned about his untimely death, I'd think about him every time I say "cool" - because he would never say cool - always "coolio" which was funny because he was not the kind of guy who would ever use slang or say something pretentious. Or every time I go to the dentist I think about when I met up with him right after he had had a root canal and he told me that whenever he goes to the dentist he feels a little bit like he had been "raped in the mouth".

I also remember one evening we spent talking about death and dying and how we think we are going to end up dying. And this is not how he was supposed to die. And when.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Losing a friend is like losing a part of yourself

Rest in peace Ketil.

You were one of the most beautiful people I knew. Inside and out.
You always made me feel like a million bucks. You were smart and funny and creative and inspired people in so many ways.

I will miss you more than words can express.