HOW TO NOT KILL YOURSELF – TEN TIPS FOR TROUBLED TIMES

By David Mangene

Photo by Milan Gino.

We published my book, How To Not Kill Yourself – Ten Tips For Troubled Times on 25 February 2020. The book is the story of my struggles with manic depression. I wrote it because I had to. In other words – I was very depressed and writing, and art in general, is my way to heal. Along the way, many wonderful things happened. I learned that I can help myself to heal by trying to help others to heal too. It’s a ‘pay it forward’ type of thing. I am very proud of this book and it’s the best thing I’ve ever written. If you get depressed, or if you love someone who does, please read my book. I promise it will help. And even if it doesn’t help, you’ll have a few good laughs because I am a seriously funny mofo (and very humble too).

Here’s a little excerpt:


Congratulations! If you’re reading this, then you haven’t
 killed yourself. You’re still alive. Well done! I’d like to
 think you’re still alive because you saw my book and
thought, “Well! I gotta have some of that,” after which you
read the book and decided not to pop a cap in your own
ass. You’re welcome.

Click here to get the book.

HOW TO BEAT THE CORONA BLUES, DAY 416,241.

By David Mangene

Hello again. I’m pretty sure that, by now, you didn’t even realise it was day 416,241. You most definitely had lost track. If it’s any consolation I had to count the days too. And here we are. 416,241 days. Damn.

If you’re anything like me, you’ve settled into some kind of ‘new normal’ routine. By now you’re using, or at least familiar with, Zoom, Teams, FaceTime, Zencastr, Whereby, yadda, yadda, yadda. I’m not great at computers but even I have accepted these platforms. I will say this – please take designer Tom Ford’s advice on looking good for online meetings. He seems to be the only one paying attention to this. I am certainly guilty of the bad lighting, bad background, camera angle to accentuate double chin – do you do it too? Follow his tips and we can all stop looking up each other’s nostrils. Feel free to call me vain, but Mr. Ford is most definitely on to something.

Several days ago I put out the feelers about online lessons. Since then I have started several new courses. Today I invite you to consider improving your English because now is the greatest of times, and this stay-at-home thing is far from over.

So… If you’re ready to start improving your business English now, here’s what you get if you start doing lessons with me:

  • more confidence speaking English
  • more vocabulary words
  • better grammar
  • less steenkolenengels

Here’s how the process works if you choose to improve your English with me as your teacher:

  • step 1: an intake which takes about 15 minutes. We determine your level and talk about how you can get better. The intake is free of charge and/or obligation
  • step 2: We start the lessons. Depending on your ambition/budget/time available, we do one-on-one sessions once a week for 60 minutes.
  • step 3: We work on getting you to actually speak by building your confidence and speaking.
  • step 4: At the end of the session you get coaching and feedback and after the lesson I send you a whatsapp photo of the notes and give you a homework assignment that will take minimum 15 minutes.
  • step 5: your English gets so good that you win the Nobel Peace Prize and dedicate the award to your amazing English teacher. Ah, how sweet.

Here are the conditions if you choose to work with me:

  • you do the lessons one at a time, as if you were taking a class at a gym or doing a yoga class
  • You can quit at anytime
  • You can keep going as long as you want
  • This is a special “corona time” deal, but it will carry on as long as you want it to carry on.
  • I provide the lesson materials. All you need is internet and a pen.
  • We schedule the lessons together, at a time that suits us both.

How much?

Here’s the deal: you have to contact me if you want to know. I’m not going to put my fee online, so if you’re serious you’ll write me a mail at david.mangene@gmail.com.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Stay strong,

David.

HOW TO BEAT THE CORONA BLUES, DAY 14.

By David Mangene, 29 March 2020, Utrecht – the Netherlands.

AN OPEN LETTER TO MY FELLOW AMERICANS IN THE NETHERLANDS.

Hello there,

Remember back when you were contemplating your new life in the Netherlands, anticipating your upcoming adventures and getting all fired up? Remember that? Well now that you’re here, for however long you’ve been here, I bet you didn’t consider living through a 21st century plague in a foreign country, now did you?

I sure didn’t. But here were are.

Not exactly a lockdown but close enough. I haven’t left my little house in Utrecht for two days and sweatpants are the new black, know wadda mean? The Easter jaunts to Paris are cancelled. The summer vacation in France is cancelled. Hell, even Friday night at that cafe is out the window, am I right? It’s pretty rough and no end in sight. Deep, prolonged sigh commences in 3, 2, 1…

Which brings me to the reason I’m writing to you today. We’re all looking for a way to get through this pandemic thing, sanity intact. I’ve got a win-win for you: you choose to take online Dutch lessons from me, and I get to teach you Dutch online which means you learn to speak Dutch and, because I have something productive to do, the chances of me doing a swan dive off the Erasmus bridge are greatly reduced. Let’s be honest, we both need an activity that doesn’t involve Jose Cuervo at 11:00 in the morning.

In all seriousness: I have been teaching Dutch since starting my own business back in 2001. My clients for Dutch (I teach English too, but rarely to Americans 🙂 ) are people just like you: Americans and other non-native Dutch speakers who have started a new life in this fine land and want to learn the lingo.

To help you contemplate whether to choose me as your teacher, a little backstory: my name is David, I was born in Milton, Florida and we lived in seven different states before finally moving up to New Hampshire when I was ten years old. I still consider Boston, and New England, to be my spiritual home (read: quasi loathing for the New York Yankees). I moved to the Netherlands in 1993 after I graduated from the University of Northern Colorado, and I’ve been here ever since. I’m a writer, a teacher, a stand-up comedian, and a full-time Omdenker. I am the proud father of two sons, half Dutch-half American, whom we are raising bilingually. If you need any more proof as to my street cred as a Dutch teacher, check out this quote from Austin Weymouth, fellow American and co-founder of the wildly successful ‘Americans in the Netherlands’ Facebook page, “Dave, you’re the only American I know that’s completely fluent”.

So I guess I got that going for me.

Due to the Corona plague, I am at home for who knows how long. All my face-to-face lessons, all my shows for Omdenken, all my stand-up gigs have been cancelled. I have time and energy to help you with your Dutch. I cannot do the lessons for free, but I will do them for a special ‘Corona Time’ rate that we can work out together. Bottom line: I want to help and I need a purpose in life besides the aforementioned booze. It’s a win-win for both of us.

And if you couldn’t care less about learning Dutch but just need to vent about how the incessant Dutch rain has stopped and the sun has been shining since the very day the quarantine started, I’m your man. Drop me a line. I’m always up for a good rant.

Hang in there, kids.

David

david.mangene@gmail.com

DAY TWELVE.

By David Mangene, 27 March 2020, Utrecht – The Netherlands.

Right. Here’s what I know:

  • Today, Friday (you had to think about that one, am I right?), you will wear sweat pants or pyjamas until well into the evening.
  • You will check your phone 1,242,817 times.
  • the vast majority of those phone checks will relate in some way to the C-word.
  • you will search your brain for ways to creatively endure this crisis.
  • Mostly, you will fail at finding ways to creatively endure this crisis and then you will hit the bottle with a vengeance. It’s always 5:00 o’clock in Dublin, know wadda mean?

But guess what kids, fret no more. For your Uncle David has done the thinking for you. Check this:

What about if you use all this downtime, all this scrolling internet time, to improve your English? Worry not my friend, for in addition to doing American English lessons with me, you’ll still have plenty of time to watch cat videos, make tik-tok movies or peruse, shall we say, erotic entertainment (I read this morning that Pornhub’s business has never been better. Ha! We are, after all, a species enslaved to the lizard brain. I read that fun fact on Twitter btw, because the erotic entertainment site doesn’t have articles, ahem.)

So yes, I want to start teaching my American English lessons online a.s.a.p. I am posting this today because I’d like to see if people are interested in my offer. If you are reading this and you think, “yes, I would like to postpone my erotic entertainment / cat videos / cabinet scrubbing by taking English lessons from David”, please leave a comment. You would be helping me a great deal if you did.

I haven’t worked out the details yet. I will be doing that over the weekend. This post is simply a preliminary feeler. Next week I’ll post the specifics of my offer.

We gotta do something to pass the time until the world opens back up on Easter Sunday! Send me an email at david.mangene@gmail.com if you feel the need. Thank you! .

DAY NINE.

By David Mangene, 24 March 2020, Utrecht – the Netherlands.

Ostrichus Headinthesandus.

Hello again my fellow quarantinos. Fresh news from the Dutch government last night – no gatherings until June 1st, 2020. Hooray! That means your favorite author has no work until that time. Chances are good that you’re in the same boat. Are you? How does it feel? How are you coping? What is your plan?

As I write about in How To Not Kill Yourself, Tip number 4: Mind Your Money, my normal approach to all matters financial is to stick my head in the sand. Bad business model. With that in mind, today I began the necessary process of looking into each and every governmental action and fund available to people like me who’ve lost their gigs in the culture sector. If you’re feeling the squeeze too, I feel your pain.

On a brighter note: the President of the United States of America wants to open the country for business in 15 days. He’s risking the deaths of millions of Americans but goddamnit, the US of A is a country that should be open. I’m sure it’s a tough call, but this one seems a stretch for even the Great Orange Menace.

Hope you’re doing ok,

David.

DAY EIGHT.

By David Mangene, 23 March 2020, Utrecht – the Netherlands.

My book release party, back when we still had gigs… (28 February 2020)

Hello there dear reader. How are you holding up? Are you going stir-crazy? Have you found a way to cope? I am hanging in there. I’m a divorced father of two boys and today they went back to their mother’s house. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t hug them a little tighter when saying goodbye, because if we go into lockdown it could be a while before I see them again.

Tough stuff.

With the kids gone, the house has gotten quieter. The good news is it gives me some time to reflect on the past week. Superlatives to describe the unprecedented nature of what we are all experiencing obviously fall short, so I’ll go easy on the hyperbole. But it has been historic.

Here’s what I know for sure:

  • Movies watched: Straight Outta Compton, which was way better than I expected. I loved it, and found the characters and script highly believable and free of cliche.
  • Binge TV watched: (by Dominique, which means me by default) Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C.J. Walker. The mini-series chronicles the work of Madam C.J. Walker, America’s first self-made female millionaire, thanks to her pioneering haircare products. Amazing story, particularly how she kept going in the toughest of times. // The Letter For The King. We chose this one because we thought the kids might like watching it with us. Nothing doing. They stayed upstairs and we watched the Game of Thronesesque knights and soldiers try to find favour with the King. Decent entertainment, I must admit. // CNN Inside Politics with John King. I love John King. I think he plays it straight, pretty much free of partisanship. Highly intelligent, no bullshit host. // CNN State of the Union with Jake Tapper. Jake is another of the heavy hitters at CNN that I believe tells the truth without pushing an agenda. I trust him. // White House Press Briefings – I started watching these with a relatively open mind. I wanted to see the President operate in these challenging times. I felt he deserved (another) chance to convince me he’s not a complete fuck nugget. Although I initially applauded his attempts to cede the mic to experts like Fauci, I quickly realized he is indeed in over his head. A genuine fuck nugget, therefore. Fuck nugget is an expression I stole from the Scottish, or as they say, “We hated him first!” When he went off on that reporter from NBC on Friday (Peter Alexander?), I lost all hope. I’ve stopped watching the briefings because they do not provide me answers about the corona virus and, as an added bonus, they make me puke in my mouth. I mean really, can you live through Pence saying, yet once again, “I want to thank the President for his leadership and the incredible progress…” PUKE! I, for one, simply can not. // Studio Sport Euro 88. In 1988 the Dutch Men’s National Football Team won the European Championships, and goddamn did they do it with style. They had several legends on that team: Ruud Gullit, Ronald Koeman, Marco van Basten, Frank Rijkaard not to mention the iconic coach Rinus Michels. Truth be told, every player on that team deserves legendary status because they were so fucking good. I’ve lived in Holland for a long time, and followed the Dutch team very closely, but this was the first time I saw the in-depth story of what happened that magical summer. My boys Mick and Timo watched the whole thing with me and it was a great father/son bonding moment.
  • Books read (and I read lots of books at the same time, flipping from one to the other): How To Not Kill Yourself by me. I’m currently re-reading the very last drafts before publication in English. The book will be out as an e-book in the next few weeks. I cannot wait to share it with you English speaking folks! I’m so proud of it. // Leegstand by Aafke Romeijn. I posted about this one the other day. Lovely piece of work on depression and recovery. Aafke rocks! // Ignore Everybody by Hugh MacLeod. Fantastic book for anybody attempting to make a career out of being “creative”. I’ve taken his advice very literally over the years and voila, I have a career as a “creative”. Consider yourself warned. // Night of the Gun by David Carr. Here’s a story after my own heart. David was an insatiable crack cocaine connoisseur, who ended up the father of two bouncy baby twin girls and somehow managed to turn his life around into a productive, loving enterprise. Plus, the motherfucker can write. Holy Shit. I put him into the same heady heights as Anthony Bourdain when it comes to non-fiction prose. So, so good. // Everything Is Fucked – A book about Hope by Mark Manson. Mark Manson of ‘The subtle art of not giving a fuck’ fame. This is a very agreeable take on hope. It’s a little heavy in the middle, but I love Manson no matter what.
  • Social Media Posts Written: nine. I know I’ve been posting a lot. I can’t help it. Writing is the only way I can make sense out of my world. I apologise if it’s a lot, but It’s not likely I’ll be stopping. And if you enjoy my writing and read it regularly, thank you! And if you don’t, just scroll on by, pannekoek.
  • Weight gained: plenty. I don’t stand on scales but I’ve been eating like a grizzly before hibernation. I’d bet my Grandma’s life savings on me gaining significant amounts of weight.
  • Cabinets cleaned: more than normal. Nothing cleanses the pandemic heebie-jeebies like scrubbing a cabinet/toilet/door handle/teenagers face.
  • Booze consumed: I question whether it’s measurable…
  • Anti-depressants consumed: the necessary amount and God bless them, oh yes. Also had a talk with my new psychiatrist about switching from Quetiapine to Lithium for bipolar disorder. Breakthrough!
  • Naps taken: I repeat, I question whether it’s measurable…
  • Physical exercise done: Ha!

I’m gonna spare you the Corona platitudes and the “be safes” and the “we’re in this togethers”. You’re a human possessed of above-average intelligence. Dear reader – you don’t need me to warn you. All I can say is I hope you’re maintaining sanity and that we don’t end up in lockdown.

Hang in there!

David.

DAY SEVEN.

By David Mangene, 21 March 2020, Utrecht – the Netherlands

With so much posting, so much news watching, so much hand-wringing, I’m gonna heed Walter’s word and not roll on the Shabbos. Never mind that the Jewish Sabbath is Saturday, we’re gonna interpret his wisdom rather liberally.

And Big Lebowski is still one of my all-time faves.

See you tomorrow, my fellow quarantinos.

David.

Order my new book How To Not Kill Yourself here.

HOW TO BEAT THE CORONA BLUES, DAY 5.

By David Mangene, 20 March 2020, Utrecht – the Netherlands.

A shot from another lifetime. Sanne (drums), Aafke (keys), David (guitar), and Pascal (bass): Burning Flames of Fire, way back in 2012.

Today I’ve got just the thing to beat your corona blues – a lovely conversation with my old pal Aafke Romeijn. Aafke writes, sings, plays, tweets – is there anything you don’t do AR? During this episode of the How To Not Kill Yourself podcast we talked depression et al, and it was a joy! I first met Aafke several years ago when we played in the same band Burning Flames of Fire (the name alone should be in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame). Aakfe is a kindred spirit – she knows the darkness oh yes, and she also knows what she’s gotta do to combat depression and thrive.

The timing of our conversation was perfect too because Aafke has just released her very first poetry bundle titled Leegstand. I was lucky enough to get an early copy and absolutely loved it. I’m normally a serious non-fiction kinda guy who’d avoid poetry like the plague, but Aafke’s take on depression in poetry form is too good, too funny, too on point to ignore. I highly recommend it.

I hope you enjoy the podcast as much as we enjoyed making it.

PS – This week we had to cancel our podcast recording with writer and journalist Nathan Vos and it’ll be a while before we get back in the saddle. Fingers crossed that it’s weeks rather than months.

Hang in there,

David.

You can listen to the podcast here.

You can order Aafke’s new book Leegstand here.

You can buy my new book How To Not Kill Yourself here.