1. Every minute I worked with therapy clients. No further explanation required, me thinks.
  2. Talking about the American Civil War with professor Gert Buelens and Civil War expert Serge Noirsain. I’m not going to explain why this topic means so much to me, but I can tell you that it’s heavenly to have a discussion about these topics with two people who can really relate.
    Serge noirsain.jpg
  3. The way we celebrated my wife’s birthday. She cried, because for once all the stress of this year fell from her shoulders.We had both been so busy, it was the first real conversation we had had in over a month.
  4. Every time I went out with Andrea, a stunningly beautiful lawyer with a sharp intellect who really challenged me. Especially the moment I got her flowers and hid them behind the couch we were sitting on, but every moment together was special to me. Andrea is the most interesting person I got to know in 2017. She has clear values, is unusually honest and direct, has a great sense of humor, is one of the best communicators I’ve ever met, at least in one on one exchanges, she’s one of the few truly happy people I know, and she’s not a coward. And yes, she’s also an absolute delight to look at, that’s part of the appeal.
  5. Conversations with Ruben, a political and religious philosopher I have been friends with for almost 20 years. We stayed up all night and talked about how to build a somewhat happy life, do something useful, in a world that’s clearly controlled by an elite that has no respect for human life whatsoever.
  6. When I finally realized how I want to organize my life, what sort or routine fits me, what kind of habits I want to have, what kind of people I want to have in my life, and what my priorities are. It took me a whole week to put it on paper, and now everywhere I go I carry papers around with me with long lists of what I’m about. If anybody would ever find my dead body, that person would also find my entire life on slips of paper…
  7. There were some beautiful moments when I was teaching teenage boys. Some of those moments had me almost in tears. I actually really enjoyed working with them and listening to them, as I had the feeling nobody ever really takes the time to listen to the concerns of teenage boys. Most adults just throw either criticism or advice or lessons on them, without really being present and simply listening without judging. If you could make money as a highschool teacher and if most highschool teachers wouldn’t be so annoying, I would have loved to stay at that school. I had some great connections with the 105 boys and two girls I had the honor to have under my care.8. Conversations with my father-in-law. He’s stuying to be a psychologist, and although we have radically different values in certain areas of life, we also have lots of values in common. And well, he’s just amazing.

    9. We published our first book, through our publishing house Donkichod. Although it’s not in stores and we intended the first edition to ‘test the waters’, we sell a book a day now. So the next and updated edition will be in the regular book stores. We learned a lot doing this. img_1925

    10. I came up with a game to play with a big group of people, it’s called ‘Of fortresses and palaces’. It was a hit with my teenage students, they talked about it during the breaks and compared the results, who won, with which team and with which strategy. Some said they would buy it if I turned it into a real board game. I will, but first I have to finish a couple of other things. It was a great feeling to see them so enthusiastic about playing it. Not all of them liked it, but the majority really loved it.
    of fortresses and palaces.jpg

    11. I suppose certain lessons I knew I had to learn finally got to me this year. It wasn’t a beautiful year, but I did learn a lot. You can read more about that here.

    12. It was nice to have my mum discover Slovakia. She and an aunt came over twice this year. They had a good time and they saw a lot. I’m grateful that I got to show my mum a competely different country with a very different culture. She would never have traveled to Slovakia otherwise and I’m glad she got to see something else. I have the feeling it’s made her look differently at her own country and culture.  I’m also grateful for the uncommonly generous and enthusiastic way my family in law welcome them every time they visit.

    13. It was a big and very pleasant surprise to see this website get 20 times more visitors than last year. I’ve been blogging for so long that I really gave up hope that anyone would ever read what appears on this website. So when I suddenly saw that the stats were booming, I was thrilled, but also very scared: was this just a cooincidence, would they soon drop again to ‘normal’ levels? But so far so good, and I hope it can keep growing. I put my energy into every day.

    14. Assad is winning in Syria. Ok, so it’s weird to include this. I’m not even a fan of Assad. But still, I like how he’s winning because America and its beloved allies, Israel and Saudi-Arabia hate the fact that they couldn’t drive him out. So in a ‘the enemy of my enemies is kind of my friend’ mood I’m adding this to the list. The US imperialists did not see this coming. It gives a boost to Iran. A country that only underwent an islamic revolution back in 1979, because in the fifties the US and the UK staged a coup to oust the democratically elected Iranian leader Mosaddegh. Even biased Wikipedia – it leans heavily towards conclusions made by the mainstream media, which is the propaganda tool of the elite- is positive about him. By the way, have you noticed how we get very little news about Syria these days? Well, the US elite doesn’t like to advertize its ignominious defeats…

    15. Real journalists are becoming more and more popular. People like Abby Martin (see picture below) or  Chris Hedges or Lee Camp or Peter Joseph are building a real following. I love these guys, they bring a kind of insight into world politcs and economics you cannot get from consuming the mainstream media.
    abby martin.jpg

    16. I got to interpret for Dennis Meinema, a sport journalist working for a prestigious Dutch newspaper, called NRC. Early in the year I spent a week in Zilina, interpreting for Dennis as he wrote an excellent article on Slovakia’s most famous celebrity, the cyclist Peter Sagan. This was really a lot of fun. We got to interview pretty much his entire family. In the picture you see his sister.
    sagan sister.jpg

    17. Conversations with Franswa Vergucht. When we were still living in the same country we did plays together. In the picture you can see us direct one of our plays in Ghent. These days we can’t do play together, since 1200 kilometer gets in the way, but when we meet we love to talk about… You guessed it. PEP. Psychology, Economics and Politics. I cherish those talks, since I feel like a normal person when I see someone spots the same trends in society and feels the same way about the course humanity is taking, or the way Israel is methodically trying to get every morcel of land in Palestine through the most inhumane dealings. These are really PEP talks, because we both recharge our batteries when we meet.

    met Franswa belichting.jpg

    BONUS 2: My wife sold tons of her cards to the Kafka museum in Prague and other institution have expressed an interest in also buying her cards!

    All in all it wasn’t a happy year, I won’t be sharing the 17 unhappiest moments of 2017 as I don’t want to depress anyone, which I could do just as easily,  but there is much to be grateful for.  And who knows, now that the year is coming to a close, we do seem to have the necessary foundation to make 2018 a happier one.