Category: “Newspaper-Columns”

Dress Code? Spandex

Huffington Post

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Illustration by Eliane Gerrits

Translated from NRC Handelsblad.

Hairdressers and limousines, tuxedos and evening gowns, proud fathers and crying mothers, meetings with lawyers. A wedding? No, it’s the primal source of stress in American life: the high school prom. Here are clumsy 18-year-olds pretending to be loving couples, photographed in front of magnolias and azaleas, defenseless targets of the romantic projections of their parents.

Posted in: Newspaper Columns
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-2015 06 03 1433331698 6417692 Veterans Sam Victor Eliane Thumb
Illustration by Eliane Gerrits

Memorial Day always ends with a barbecue. The aromas of burning hamburgers cover the land like a smoky blanket. 

I’m in a backyard where my host is juggling sausages on his grill, when my neighbor suddenly says to me, “It is unfortunate that so few people these days think of the veterans now. Memorial Day and Independence Day are bursting with parades and patriotism, yet they should be a moment of quiet reflection.”

We understand this better in Holland: wreaths and ribbons on Remembrance Day, flags and streamers on Liberation Day.

Posted in: Newspaper Columns
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-2015 05 28 1432817559 9847068 Traffic Court Thumb
Illustration by Eliane Gerrits

“You have the right to remain silent,” says the judge, sitting at a high podium in front of a monumental wall. At one side of him stands a police officer with a shining revolver at his belt; on the other, a huge American flag. In front of the judge, about two yards lower, is a young black woman in an inexpensive pink dress.

Posted in: Newspaper Columns
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Swatting, but not at flies

Huffington Post

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Illustration by Eliane Gerrits

Last week our local elementary school received a disturbing phone call. In a pre-recorded voice, the speaker said that he was armed and preparing to attack the school.

The local SWAT team was on the scene almost before the call ended. In Holland, we have SWAT teams, too — Special Weapons and Tactics — but they are more familiar here, thanks to Ferguson and now Baltimore. Soon they were swarming around the school — squads of men in military fatigues, black helmets, goggles, radios, and carrying rifles and assault weapons. Over the loudspeaker crackled the command: Shelter-in-Place! Within seconds, the kids were carrying out what they had learned in many safety drills. They stood with their backs against the outside walls, out of sight from the windows. Teachers closed the doors and windows and shut off the lights. The school looked empty.

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Illustration by Eliane Gerrits

The dentist glances at my son’s annual X-rays and then, without looking, plucks a business card from a tall stack on his desk.

“They are out of place,” he says. “There is not room in his jaw for so many teeth. If they keep growing, they will ruin his other teeth. Within the next three months, you should make an appointment with the dental surgeon.” He hands me the card. “His name is Doctor L. I can recommend him. He’s been doing it for 30 years. “

Posted in: Newspaper Columns
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-Shakespeare Company Sign 150
Pia De Jong at the Firestone Library with the original metal sign from Sylvia Beach’s book store, Shakespeare and Company.

March 14 is Pi Day in most of the world, but in Princeton it is most visibly Albert Einstein Day. It’s his birthday, and this year of the Super-Pi — 3.14.15 — the streets are filled with kids wearing frizzy white wigs, smoking toy pipes and trying to win the Einstein lookalike contest.

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Black Ice

Huffington Post/NRC Handlesblad

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Illustration by Eliane Gerrits

The predicted Snowmaggedon of 2015 never arrived in Princeton, but that does not matter much to me when I find myself sprawling face-down on the parking-lot concrete next to my car. I never even saw the black ice. I just screamed and tasted blood in my mouth after I hit the ground. My whole body hurts.

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Saving Charlotte: A Mother and the Power of Intuition
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