February 20, 2012
February 19, 2012
Chapter 1: Cloudy Memory
I woke up bathing in sweat. Not knowing what time it was, I got out of bed and walked towards the window. On my way to it I stood still and looked in the mirror. Took a good look at myself and continued to the window.
“No wonder it’s so freaking hot! The sun is in full burst-mode today!”
I took a look at the clock as it was about to hit 9.30 and the thermometer hit 33 degrees Celsius which stood next to it.
“ Shit its 9.30 already!? “I have to hurry”
In a state of confusion I ran towards the closet picked up some clothes and made my way to the shower, almost tripping over my bag that lay on the ground. Luckily I managed to avoid to fall down on my face, but then hit the door with my head instead. Swearing like I was the devil himself, I put my hand on the place that got hit on my head.
“Nothing serious, man what a relief, can’t really afford to have a bump now do I?
Got myself out of my old clothes and put down the new ones and got in the shower. Refreshed I left the house. Outside it seemed just like a normal day.
“ So warm.. and its humid too. Great.. shouldn’t even bother taking a shower and left the house just like that.” I mumbled to myself.
At least the weather is favorable today, with the sun shining bright and all that and the air smelt fresh too. But something is off somehow, The sky is blue but it seemed so dull and the air seems to be heavy. I stopped paying attention to it and continued my walk to the bus stop, lest I miss it again.
The bus arrived and I got in, taking the same seat as always in the back. Looking outside the world still didn’t seem normal. Apart from the dirty windows which needed cleaning, it seemed to lack the sense of life.
“What is going on with me?”
Deep in my thoughts the bus announced the last stop and I let out a small shriek. Taira station the sign said and I got off, made my way through the throng of people and went down the stairs to catch the metro. The platform is packed as usual at this time. Always the same type of people varying from businessmen and –woman to students and one or two homeless people trying to come by, by stealing others possessions. I walked up the platform avoiding the suspicious looking people and found a nice place, leaned against the wall and waited for the metro to arrive
I heard a soft sound, not knowing where it came from I started looking around me. No one picked up their phones. Puzzled I took out my own to see whether it was actually mine that made the sound and yes it was mine.
Distracted by someone calling out to me I looked up but saw nobody.
“Probably just someone with the same name.” I guessed.
I looked at my phone again, received a message from a classmate saying: “ Hey how are you doing? Haven’t heard from you for a while now. Are you O.K.? I know things got awkward and I’d like to talk about it. Hope to hear from you soon! ”
I stared at my phone, not focusing at anything in particular. Thinking again about what happened that day. Sad story really, but it was inevitable.
“What should I say? Or rather what does she have to say to me?” “Things has gotten a bit weird and it was my fault but she still texts me like nothing happened.”
Again the place around me starts to get weird again. Thinking that I am getting sick again, the metro arrived. The ride took me about 45 minutes or so and I arrived at Salphora Station. The clock next to the station sign indicated that I was late for school, again..
I started to run, almost knocking another guy over. Swearing as he did but I didn’t really care for his ranting and kept running. Entered the school, ran up the stairs and got into class all sweaty and panting. All eyes were upon me as I suddenly opened the door. Some people made fun of me in hushed tones, others were looking at me without any particular interest. Everyone but Evalyn, looking at me in shock as if I were running away for dear life.
I eased my breathing and took a seat next to her.
“Why are you so late?” She asked. “You look terrible too, what happened”
“ Yeah, the usual” I said as I fixed my hair. “Nothing to worry about!” I gave her a faint smile, while still trying to catch my breath.
“Mr. Gilliam Yaegher, first you come late and now you are chatting with your neighbor? At least be so kind to remain silent after you so rudely disturbed my class” The lecturer said with his voice which sounds like an old cars exhaust, as he coughs every time after finishing a sentence.
“Yes sir, my apologies”
He turned around and continued with his lecture.
“Hey why are you always like that?” Evalyn said with a hushed voice.
“Like what?” I replied.
“You always act like the sun is always shining while in your head it’s storming and after that you say that I don’t have to worry? Come on please, you can be honest with me. If there is anything bothering you can tell me, alright?”
“You know I don’t like to bother others with my problems and then again it’s a waste of time for you to worry about someone like me, who, as I call it myself, is nature’s biggest failure…”
“Here you go again and its always the same kind of lame answer. Don’t you trust me? Is that it? Am I, as a friend, not good enough to share your problems with? I am just worried about you and you make it worse by saying stuff like that!”
The car exhaust turned around and stared at the two of us with a frown. If you look closely he looks exactly like a English bulldog, both fat, ugly and all wrinkly.
“You two sure are chatty today are you not? Well if you are so talkative today why not share it with the rest of us. It ought to be very interesting since you are so long at it.”
“It is a very interesting topic indeed but its private, so I am not obliged to share it with the rest.” I replied.
The lecturer got mad but kept his head cool and said: “Very well, since the two of you won’t share it with us then please take your lovely conversation outside so others may focus on their studies.”
“No it shall only be me who takes his leave for I am the one who started the conversation”
I got up, packed my bag and walked to the door. As I turned around and faced the class again in order to close the door. Evalyn gave me that look again like she always does. A look, which I immediately recognized, saying “You jerk, why are you doing that?”
I looked at her gave her a big smile and closed the door. I stopped in front of the classrooms door and looked at the sign saying room 64 a number of bad luck in China meaning boiled to death. I chuckled and thought: If I had stayed there any longer in that kind of heat I actually would be.
I took a big breath of air and got myself engaged in some thinking again. What shall I do now, I just got in class for 10 minutes and got kicked out. Evalyn probably will be mad at me again and give me a lecture of her own to make up for the one I missing now. “ But until then I still have one and a half hours left. The short session of conscious brain activity ended and I started walking. The hallway was empty because I was the only one who got kicked out and nobody has much of a big mouth around here either.
As my feet made contact with the floor, it didn’t sound like I was the one walking but someone else was. Suddenly the steps hastened and I looked behind me, no one being there except for me I stopped. So did the sound of footsteps behind me. I turned around again and started walking again and made my way to the roof. Along the way I encountered and noticed that they were looking at me frightfully. I may not be the most social person and not many people but a select few really know me but that doesn’t mean they should look at me like that. But as I focused my eyes on theirs, I noticed something weird as if they are not looking at me but something behind me. Upon this realization, I quickly looked back. Nothing there. Am I getting delusional or is it just bad eyesight? People continued to give me that look, a look I have been given my whole life. Decided to ignore it and didn’t bother looking back at them.
Somehow my brains managed to guide me to the roof and like Evalyn said, I do look like shit and my head is a mess, both figuratively and literally. That’s probably the reason they looked at me like that and avoided eye contact to avoid any confrontation.
I opened the doors leading to the roof and stood at the entrance for a while. The roof, a place of solace and serenity where I can put, that messed up bunch of cells in the control room in order, for it to function properly so thinking straight is doable. The view hasn’t changed only my perception of it. Not in the mood for any further thinking, I lied down on the ground and let my consciousness be carried away by the wind.
A sound of doors opening woke me, I apparently had fallen asleep. Not looking who entered I already knew who it was.
“Gilliam, I was looking all over the place for you! What has gotten into you today?!”
“Oh hey, how are you? Oh nevermind, you seem more than good for having survived that man’s fumes for so long. What time is it?”
“Don’t you dare to, oh hey how are you, me! Don’t act like everything is normal you jerk!”
Not in a good mood she walked straight towards me. She had a look in her face so dangerous, like someone with an intent to kill.
I turned away from her so I wouldn’t have to see such a face. Pretty as she is but looking at someone with a murderous intent isn’t so pleasant to say the least.
I can’t blame her for that, it was my fault for leaving her out on all sorts of personal matters. Knowing that she is a dear friend of mine is all the more reason for doing so. She is the first person to have actually cared and acknowledged me as a person and not some weirdo which people used to do. She always knows when I have had a bad day and immediately jumps next to me when that happens. I know she does it with good intension but for me having lived life all alone, always relying on myself. It is actually strange to me when someone does that. Especially her.
“You there get your ass up right now mister Yaegher! I am not happy and I want you to listen carefully!”
Instead of obeying her order I said: “Why don’t you sit down next to me so you don’t need to shout at me. Besides I am just 20 so my hearing is perfectly fine.”
“Fine, but you will hear what I have to say you hear me!” Evalyn said angrily.
She started talking, now she lowered her voice and said to me: “I have known you for a long time and I consider you a very good friend of mine but why are you always like this? It feels like I am a burden to you. Always when things get tough on you you always lock yourself up and hide yourself inside your castle walls, strong as they may be but hiding there alone…”
I turned over towards her and saw a tear rolling over her cheek and then she started sobbing. She has never been good at expressing herself in all the years that I know her and she always compensates her lack of words with tears. I actually find tears more meaningful than words but that’s just me I guess.
“You really suck at lecturing me don’t you, you never finish your sentences so how am I supposed to learn from you. Oh great teacher Evalyn” Having said that I reached out to my bag for some tissues and handed one to her. She stopped sobbing and snatched it from my hands. I got up to sit next to her.
Facing away from me she managed to thank me for the tissue.
“Don’t get me wrong! I may have said thank you but it’s not me who needs comfort it’s you!”
“You are one funny girl” I said while looking at the sky. “You are the one crying here and you are telling me that I need comfort” I laughed so hard that she got mad again.
“You.. you..” She then made a sound that was like that of a little girl refusing to acknowledge the fact of being proved wrong. It went silent for a while but then she continued again.
“You really are a jerk you know..”
“I know.. I have been hearing you say that for how long now? Ten, eleven years perhaps? I have grown so accustomed to it that I consider it my second name.”
She put her shoulder against mine and said: “I really am a burden to you aren’t I?” I lifted my right hand from the floor and poked her just beneath her ribs. She shrieked and did the same to me and we continued for some time. Her arms got tired and she asked me to stop. She stretched her legs and stared at the sky.
I looked her in the face and gave her a boyish smile. She in return gave me a as girlish smile as mine was boyish.
The mood changed from good old times to her being a worry wart again, like a warthog digging around in my business. She never minded being called a worry wart because she knows she is and I don’t mind her digging around.
Evalyn started to ask me: “But be honest with me for once. Tell me why you have become like this. We used to talk about stuff like a married couple you know.” She stopped abruptly, blushed and looked away.
Silence filled the air for a few minutes. “Very well” I said. “As my lady commands it!” It seemed to work and she was back to her old self again.
“But where do I start. It is a part of my memory that I wanted erased but it never went away. From what I have learned, memories are subject to change. Probably that is related to the fact that human cells change every second and therefor memories get altered bit by bit or are just lost as time goes by.”
“Hey you were going to tell me about yourself right, now get back on track!” She demanded.
“Strict as always aren’t you? “I said as I looked up in the blue sea of thoughts. “ With each cloud being one memory or thought. Actually it is quite the same as our brain!” I yelled like some mad professor reaching a moment of eureka.
Caught off guard by my sudden outburst, she screamed and fell over. I looked at her and said to her: “ Are you still listening or are you bored already?”
“Shut up and give me a hand you big jerk!”
I helped her up and Evalyn suddenly decided to continue where I left of. “ Clouds actually can be compared as memories and brain activity because if you look at clouds like memories they change shape as does the content of our memories. Also as clouds merge it creates a lot of energy like our brain having to process a lot of things.
I cut her off and added: “That’s why people always look up in the sky when they are thinking, like we are doing now”
“Evalyn, do you think when we die our bodies are buried into the ground, our spirits go to another realm and our memories linger in the clouds so people keep remembering us as they look up in the clouds even though the shape of it changes?”
“Where did that come from all of a sudden?” She asked with surprise. “But it does sound nice and poetic and scientific too!”
I smiled and stroked her head like a bright little girl who just made her father proud.
“Sorry for the interruption and your story is far from boring please go on” She said apologetically.
“You know, clouds like humans have a life of their own each different from others. Sometimes they merge and become one, sometimes they collide and all hell breaks loose, some choose to go their own way and a few get rejected from its pack. Like me who has been declared crazy for saying out loud that I am not Chinese but just a human being in front of all my relatives. Shunned and them feeling disgraced by me I left. Not being able to fit in anywhere I am destined to roam the world seeking perhaps my final resting place, forever cast into the shadow of the cloud of solitude.”
My story went on for quite some time. As I kept looking at the clouds and they change shape while I talked, I decided to check whether she has fallen asleep or not. Wide eyed Evalyn looked at me mesmerized by this simple story of mine. I leaned against her and told her the last part of my story.
“I have been floating next to another cloud for some time and as we crossed some distance in the sky I believed it was time for me to ask if we could float to the end of the horizon. She already had a horizon to go to, but accompanied by another cloud. Its path different from mine.”
“ I don’t know but perhaps I just don’t fit anywhere in this giant of a puzzle called planet earth. Like clouds the world always changes, but I remain the same unable to change. Like you are always telling me right?”
“Hey are you still listening Evalyn?”
I woke up bathing in sweat. Got out of bed and looked up in the sky. No clouds were there..
I sighed. ” Just another clouded memory.”
Thank you for reading!
Apparently, our CE students have created a new advertising campaign that Heineken will use for the summer olympics in London! For those of you whose Dutch isn't so great (yet), the copy says : "Experience the Golden Moment! Holland Heineken House was never so close by. Ask for tickets now at www.hollandheinekenhouse.nl ...."
In the International Business School (IBS) here at HvA - we too have quite a few moments of getting in touch with reality: The YEN project, where students make their own companies, some of which have excellent ideas - the Export project, where students in the second year cooperate also with real companies, and in the third year - they all go on an internship - many of the students go abroad - get a taste of what it's like to work for a truly international company!
What I often feel as a teacher, mentor and coach at HvA - is that we have a large student body of students that have such amazing potential that it is quite an honor to be teaching here. A moment like this one - where work done by the students is going to be used by Heineken - this is something that makes me feel proud! Well done guys!
February 17, 2012
I think almost everybody knows that IM study program is not going to exist anymore within the HVA, but the question is why they have abolished this study program and what the reasons behind the scene are? I talked with many IM students about this decision; they are all worried about their future perspective concerning finding jobs and IM diploma’s validation in the Netherlands. In my opinion it should have been obvious reasons for it.
The board of school should motivate and convince students who are currently busy with IM study program about their decisions and convince them about their final decisions of cancelling this study program.
I hope all IM students receive convincing reasons from the board of school administration promptly .