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!


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