HOW TO KEEP FROM SUCKING ON AN EXHAUST PIPE WHEN YOUR ZOOM |TEAMS |WEBEX DOESN’T WORK.

By David Mangene

Unless you invented Google, or you’re living with someone who did, you’ve occasionally sucked at some form of online meeting.

Can you relate to this one: you have a 10.30 Zoom thingy and you’re all set up but then you click ‘join the meeting’, and your camera doesn’t work. Or how about this one: you have a 1:00 Webex thingy, on the same goddamned day, and you’re ready to go but then you click on ‘join the meeting’ and…

You know where this ends. These kinds of tech failures don’t just happen to us bipolar, depressed, anxiety ridden people, but we seem to be especially freaked out when it does happen. I know I am. Technology, when it fails to do what I want, can absolutely depress me.

Do you feel that way too?

When it happens, here’s what you gotta do. Go outside. Throw on your headphones and crank some tunes (I recommend Nas’s Illmatic) or a Deepak Chopra meditation. Whatever it takes. Breathe. Then, walk for an hour. Walk fast, too. Power walk, for Christsakes. Just fucking GO!

I promise when you get home, you won’t want to suck on an exhaust pipe because you’re ashamed of being a loser with computers. I bet it even happened to Steve Jobs a couple times.

If we’re prone to depression and anxiety, technology can get us down in a jiffy. Don’t take the bait. After you get back home, outsource your computer issues to your kids because they know what’s up. If you don’t have kids, ask the neighbors’ kids. Just find a kid under 20 years of age. If you actually are a kid under the age of 20 then you can fix your computer yourself, hoorah!

Your computer will get fixed, you’ll get a second chance on your meeting, and then you can fall in love with life again. It still beats dying!

Love,

David

For more tips on how to not kill yourself, check out my new book How To Not Kill Yourself.

On the eve of the ‘MOST IMPORTANT ELECTION OF OUR LIFETIME’, a letter to my beloved Dutch girl.

By David Mangene

Dearest Dominique,

Hello again, my radiant Rubenesque beauty! It’s been a dog’s age since I last wrote. I do apologize, for there is no good reason for my absence. None beyond that I could hardly stomach the thought of writing another word about this President. But this evening, all is different. This evening we stand on the precipice of an election so historic it could alter the course of our world. Or then again, maybe not. One never knows on this ‘fake-news’ planet of ours.

Dominique, my pragmatic little petunia, the whole point of me writing all those letters to you back in 2017 was to inform you about the goings-on in Washington. For you Europeans, trying to figure out American politics is a little like trying to figure out quantum physics. How could anyone ever figure that out? Hence, my letters. I still want you to understand my country.

First and foremost, my lily fragranced friend, tomorrow we shall choose a new President. Actually we’ve been choosing for many weeks, with citizens sending in ballots. As you will have seen, the race is between Trump + Pence and Biden + Harris. Being Dutch, you will have noticed that the two main gentlemen, Trump and Biden, are rather, shall we say, on the mature side. Or as I heard one of your fellow Europeans so bluntly put it last week:

“David, why are there only grandpas running for President?”

It’s a fair, albeit slightly ageist question, yet one I’d like to address. Although it is true that both Mr. Trump and Mr. Biden are indeed grandfathers, we Americans prefer to refer to their advanced ages as mere signs of their plentiful experience.

But, David, if Biden wins, he will be 82 when he leaves office!

Why yes, that is the truth and may I commend you on your mathematical skills, dear Dominique. In your country, such senior citizens would be gently encouraged to surrender the political spotlight for younger specimens, but this is Donald Trump we’re talking about. He couldn’t surrender the spotlight to the Lord himself, let alone go quietly into the peaceful realm of retirement. And, as the culture goes, if Trump is young enough, then so is Biden.

So, yes, they are old. Well, older. But don’t you like the comforting thought of your own grandfather running the country with his sensible, rational, grandfatherly ways? Imagine your beloved Grandpa, cutting the meat at Christmas, gently dispensing pearls of wisdom by teaching you the way forward in life? What’s that you say – your own grandfather suffered from Alzheimers at an age younger than both Trump and Biden? Well then, maybe you and your fellow Europeans have a point. Our candidates are getting a little long in the teeth. Perhaps the next cycle will bring some youth.

Speaking of youth, did you see how President Trump felt so young during his Corona virus treatment that he referred to himself in several interviews as extremely young? Wait, let me provide you the proper quote:

“I am a perfect physical specimen and I am extremely young…”

Ahem. So yeah, there’s that. We are only as old as we feel, n’est-ce pas Dominique?

On to more pressing matters. You have recently expressed confusion at the difference between the popular vote and the Electoral College. As in:

how can one candidate actually get millions more votes than the other and still lose?

That is an intelligent query – no surprise coming from you, for you have both the brains and the beauty. My answer shall be as simple as it is crude:

I have no fucking idea, my darling.

You could ask this question to the best and brightest and, with very few exceptions, their answers will feel as confusing as an instruction manual in Mandarin Chinese. In other words, nobody knows. Mark my words, Mr. Biden and Mrs. Harris will win the popular vote. Likely by millions of votes. But we’ll have to see how the Electoral College plays out over the course of several days, weeks, or even months. What fun!

But Dominique, lieve schat, all is not lost. We Americans are a plucky lot (that’s British for ‘brave people’). We’ve been in a tight spot before. And, as far as democracy goes, it’s never over till the fat lady sings. May I remind you of the late American folksinger Pete Seeger and his spirited work, We Shall Overcome? Or Martin Luther King’s I Have A Dream speech? Or any of comedian Sarah Cooper’s spot-on imitations of Trump? (She is a National Treasure!)

My point is this, oh bootylicious European one – please don’t give up on us yet. Nobody likes a good comeback like Americans and we are still in the game.

So tomorrow, we go to the polls and cast our votes in this, THE MOST IMPORTANT ELECTION IN OUR LIFETIMES! Who will win? We don’t know, dearest Dominique, we just don’t know. The polls say Biden and Harris, but can those polls be trusted? Lord knows they were wrong last time. Truth is, I’m sitting here biting my nails. But let’s say, for argument, Biden wins. In that case I will be happy as a clam. I voted for him because I believe he will restore decency and much needed normalcy to the American experiment. And four years from now, I believe he will pass the torch to Kamala and hell yes to that.

But if Biden loses, and Trump shocks the world yet again, perhaps by claiming fraud and tying it up in the courts, or just by flat out winning – look out for trouble. Things could get a little edgy. After all, we Americans also love a good fight, what with all our Red vs Blue, Democrats vs Republicans, Crips vs Bloods, Red Sox vs Yankees tribal hatred. And nobody can deny there’s a lot of guns on the streets. The worst case scenario is quite dark indeed. I shudder to think.

For now though Dominique, my peaceful lover of the precious Polder model, as evening falls on your side of the atlantic – please hear this: if after the votes have been counted, and the pundits have gabbed, and the electorate has spoken, and Donald J. Trump is still in the Oval calling the shots – in that case, please roll out the red carpet and meet me at the airport because your Dearest David is coming to town for good.

With all my love,

David.

HOW TO MAKE MY PAIN YOUR GAIN.

By David Mangene

Here’s what I’ve learned so far: no matter what, I’m gonna try to make life funny. My journey has thrown me plenty of curveballs and I’ve found a way to turn my pain into gain. Here’s how:

PUBLIC SPEAKING – Truth be told, the only place I really, really know what I’m doing is on a stage, talking. I’m up there, sharing my stuff, warts and all, and I’m loving it. I do it because inspiring you inspires me. It’s why I get out of bed. Check out my TedxTalk on breaking taboos around mental health.

PUBLIC SPEAKING COACH – Public speaking, does it scare you too? I’ve been speaking to live audiences for 30 years and it still makes me wanna puke. But I do it anyway because afterwards people say nice things like “wow – David, that was really inspiring. I’m touched.” And I don’t even have to pay them to say it. As far as I’m concerned, public speaking comes down to confidence, authenticity, and vulnerability, so that’s what I coach.

OMDENKEN TRAINER – Omdenken – The Dutch Art of Flip-Thinking. We travel the world doing shows that teach people to flip problems into possibilities. Why? Because human beings aren’t very good at flipping problems. We’d rather remove pesky problems AS SOON AS POSSIBLE! At Omdenken we believe in a different way. We say yes to problems and accepts them as facts. From there we create new possibilities. If you’re interested in booking Omdenken for a show contact Omdenken HQ in Utrecht, the Netherlands.

BUSINESS ENGLISH TEACHER – I started teaching English at the world famous Taleninstituut Regina Coeli in Vught. After 9 years I started my own business called House of English. I immediately fell in love with teaching English because it helps people connect with each other and opens doors to a bigger world.

DAGVOORZITTER – You have an event and you need someone to grab a microphone and lead the troops. Ideally, you’ll want someone with wit, spontaneity, decent personal hygiene and the ability to show up on time. I’m your man.

PUBLISHED AUTHOR – I’ve published two books: Nooit Meer Steenkolenengels in June 2012 and How To Not Kill Yourself – Tien Tips Voor Moeilijke Tijden in February 2020. Every day, once I’ve climbed out of bed, I make myself a latte and write my morning pages. Writing is the way I make sense of our frantic world.

PODCAST MAKER – We make a podcast called How To Not Kill Yourself. I invite guests to have hopeful conversations about mental health because it helps to break taboos. You can find it wherever you listen to your podcasts.

STAND-UP COMEDIAN – We gotta laugh to keep from crying, am I right? I’ve been doing shows for a long time and I’m currently writing my new 60 minute show entitled How To Not Kill Yourself. If I can support you in any of these areas, send me a message.

HOW TO BREAK THE TABOO AROUND MENTAL HEALTH.

Do you ever wanna support someone who is struggling with mental health injuries but you don’t know how? Watch my TedxUtrecht talk and I’ll show you how. If my talk resonates with you, please share it with your friends so that we can all start hopeful conversations about mental health. Thanks to all the amazing volunteers who made this night so magical.

Hire me to speak at your next event.

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.