As promissed in my first blog I will continue and start with the promised very very very long story. I want to start this blog by making you understand how important music is to me.
The best way to make you understand the level of passion I have and feel for music is by copying the “Goodbye Letter” I wrote to my colleagues when leaving the company. Although I did not want all my colleagues to know about my condition I felt that I could not just go ahead and leave without explaining to them what the reason was. A simple “I am leaving because I am planning on becoming one of if not the best Music Producer/DJ in the world” just would not be sufficient. “Yeah right.. The best producer in the world.. aha…”
I had to make them understand that this was not a far fetched boys dream but something that I was planning for the last 15 years. I had to make clear to them the level of importance music is for me so the “Goodbye Letter” was quite long :-) They were all my family the past 8 years and I felt they all deserved to know why but I also wanted them to know that my dream was not a whim, a caprice, a sudden idea but something I was planning a long time ago before I even knew them and before I got cancer.
This is the letter I wrote:
Some of you might have noticed that I have not been around these last couple of weeks. I write to you this letter to explain the reason for my absence. To try to make you understand what has caused this sudden urge to leave my beloved Seaway. Let’s start from the beginning…
I have a dream. For the last 15 years I have been seriously dreaming of making a living producing music. When we were small kids my twin brother and I started noticing that we had a talent regarding music. We started noticing that compared with the most other kids we could perfectly remember the tunes from our favorite cartoon series and we only needed to hear it once or twice to perfectly recreate them vocally without missing a note, beat or pitch and in the correct key. We noticed also that we had an ear for hit songs. We could listen to any album once and tell you exactly which songs were going to be hits. We often wondered why you had to pay a lot of money for an album with two or three hit songs and 10 to 12 wannabe hit songs. Still do… My twin brother and I love hit songs. We often dreamed of buying (actualy getting) an album with only hit song on it. Still waiting… (Maroon 5’s “Songs About Jane” album comes close). For us this was normal and we assumed that everyone could do this. It is when we started noticing that no other kids we knew, and we knew a lot of kids, could do this that we realized that we had a talent.
I was introduced to music production back in 1992. One of my best friends had his own studio at home and I went to visit him every weekend to see him working in his studio. In that time I was doing MAVO and had one year to go for graduation. This was the time that most teenagers start thinking about what they want to do for a living in the near future. You know that question we are all asked when we are young… “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Well there it was. The answer to that question served to me on a golden plate. Seeing my friend working in his studio with his other beat making friends was for me like love at first sight. For the first time, I started contemplating the idea of using this talent and my passion for music for making a living. During this studio period at my friend’s house I noticed that most of his friends that were also producing at home did not have this talent that I had. They would play a tune on my friend’s piano and were totally convinced that they were playing it right but I could hear clearly that some of them were not hitting the correct note. They needed the musical notes of the song to indeed realize that I was right.
So I started thinking that if they could make very good music, albeit with more effort compared to me because of this talent I believed I had, why should I not be able to also make very good music and surely even hit songs with this talent. A dream was born…
1992 was a time that if you wanted to produce music, you could only do this by hiring expensive studio time. No time for experimenting in these expensive big studios. You had to already know how to use the tools available in these studios so to not waste precious time. My friend did not have the time for learning the skills needed to use all these tools. His only option at that time was to invest A LOT in studio gear to be able to produce decent sounding music at home at his own pace by learning at home daily. He took a loan with his mother’s help for about 50000!! Dutch Guilders from his bank to be able to buy studio gear to start producing music at home. Now FL 50000,- (about 25000 Euros now) in 1992 was a lot of money, but in terms of studio gear at that time it was nothing. It was still good enough to make decent sounding music at home. Now remember that internet was not introduced in the Netherlands yet back then and even if it was there surely was not enough information let stand tutorials on music production and studio gear as you have nowadays. My friend “lost” weeks if not months only on finding information about all phases of music production and his studio gear in several libraries in the region. He realized that if he wanted to make a living from producing soon that he was not going to achieve it if he was not dedicated 24/7 to music production. He decided to stop college and dedicate his time to pursuing his dream. Now he had all the time in the world to start learning how to produce music. So he did. 4 years passed by and by that time he knew everything about music production and about studio gear. We did not see each other much since he stopped school because he was always in his studio 24/7. We kind of lost contact. I knew this was something that needed to happen in order for him to truly pursue his dream. Every 6 months or so he would invite me and our friends to his house (well actually his momma’s house) to let us hear what he was working on. These songs were very good. They were mixed by professional mixing engineers and mastered by professional mastering engineers he had befriended. They sounded as good as any song you would find on a CD in a record shop. He was super enthusiast about these songs and so were his friends and I. The thing I noticed was that as good as these songs were, none of them had the potential of becoming a hit song. Nothing wrong with that of course but the thing is that he was convinced he was making potential hit songs. The record companies were not.. After years of trying in vain to make a living out of music production and having been disappointed time after time by other producers and label companies he gave up. When he gave up after years of trying he was left with great debts, no education good enough to get a good job and too old to start studying for a good career. Frustration and disappointment… I decided this was not going to happen to me!
By the time he gave up I was in my last year of my MBO economical juridical education. I still had my dream of producing music for a living but I did not have the money needed for a studio. My mother raised us up with a lot of cleaning schools, houses and buildings, also some welfare help so a loan for 50 thousand guilders was of course not within her reach. And even if it was I am sure that she would not let one of her sons pursue a dream that was in her eyes to big and unrealistic. She had cleaned a lot of schools and buildings to get us where we were at that time and was not going to accept such unrealistic dreams. A lawyer or doctor was her dream (of course) but anything decent and realistic was good enough. If I wanted to pursue my dream I was going to need much more than a MBO diploma… I have been always fascinated by everything regarding law school. Especially Dutch Criminal Law. My girlfriend at the time (1997) was studying fiscal law at Erasmus University in Rotterdam and one time I joined one of her classes and I liked it a lot. I had found my backup plan in case the music production did not work. Although I was fascinated by law school it did not make my heart skip a beat like music did if you know what I mean. So my plan was to finish MBO then do 1 year of HBO also Economical Juridical and get my propaedeutic. That would allow me to enter university and start an education in Dutch Criminal Law.
Back in 1997 internet was recently introduced to the consumer in the Netherlands and suddenly computers were appearing in homes. It was used at schools and universities and we were learning to work with word processing software Word Perfect. I decided to take a loan and buy one of these expensive computers to be able to see what this fuss about internet was all about. You could only surf the internet through a telephone line and this was very expensive!! Almost all my money went to KPN (PTT Telecom at the time). I was their best customer. At that time a simple picture would take a whole minute to load! There were not many webpages with photos back in those days. Most were mainly text webpages. Some of them had photos on them and I was getting frustrated by the waiting times for loading these webpages. So I ordered an ISDN line to double up my internet speed… KPN was glad$$ I often found myself having computer problems that I did not know how to solve. At that time there was no Google and for solving my problems I had to go to the library to find information about network problems and how it all works and how to solve these. Problems that would take me or one of my colleagues at ICT Department 5 minutes to solve took me 2 weeks to solve. You could imagine that after putting all my determination in finding out how these computers work and solving their problems that it gave me a lot of satisfaction. I was proud that I had managed to solve a problem that kept me a whole 2 weeks from accessing the internet all by myself. I had found another passion! Computers. The advantage of solving a computer problem after spending days and sometimes weeks looking for the answer was that I would never ever again forget how to solve such a problem. In one year I had taught myself to solve any computer problem thrown at me by pure determination with no education whatsoever in computer science (went to sleep at 5 in the morning almost every day working on my computer). The nice thing about it was that I truly enjoyed doing this. I was really happy solving my computer problems. I finally found another passion that could be my backup plan in case I could not achieve my dream of producing music for a living. If I would not make it being a music producer I could still be happy and passionate working in the IT branch.
In 1998 I had finished my MBO education and had decided that computer science was the way to go. Information Technology was new at the Haagse Hoge School so I enlisted myself for this course. I worked at night at the Metropole theatre in The Hague selling movie tickets and popcorn and cleaning the theatre rooms after a movie and I also was washing dishes at Los Muchachos restaurant in Zoetermeer to pay my tuition. I was at this time an expert in solving computer and network problems and was the IT man for the whole neighborhood and for my friends and their family. Around 1999 IT was booming in the Netherlands. If you had some skills with computers these new IT employment agencies would give you a company car and a salary in no time. At los muchachos restaurant there worked a girl that had a sister that was married with an owner of one of these new ICT employment agencies. I asked her if she could introduce me to the agency and she setup an interview for me. I did not expect them to employ me because I had no education or experience in the IT branch. I had only a few months of Information Technology education which is nothing of course and I had my self-learned skill of solving computer problems. But that surely would not be enough to convince them to employ me. At the interview I told them my story. No experience or IT education at all but an eagerness and passion to learn and the computer problems solving skills to prove it was for them enough to invite me to a second interview. On the second interview they setup a computer and asked me all kinds of questions about this computer. They simulated problems on this computer by changing settings in windows and asked me to solve these problems. I passed almost all their tests and the few ones I could not solve I would tell them to give me some time and I would surely solve them. I ended up being almost a whole working day at their office and eventually solved the difficult problems. After seeing my determination they invited me for a third interview. On the third interview they told me that they don’t employ people with no experience at all or with unfinished education but for me they would make an exception because of my computer solving skills, my determination for learning and the fact that the sister of the bosses’ wife really wanted me to have this job. After showing them my big smile they congratulated me with my new job and asked me what kind of car I would like to have. They ordered for me my first (and last ) young reliable car because, to put it in their words, I could not go and visit the clients in an old rusty car. During the second interview they asked me what I was going to do about school if they were to employ me because I was studying full time during the days. I told them that I would switch to studying in the evenings to be able to work for them. They gave me a month before I had to start working so that I could make the switch. My first IT job and adventure was a fact.
I worked as a helpdesk engineer solving computer problems at a company in Utrecht. Every day I learned new stuff about computers, software programs like office and networking. But working during the day and studying in the evenings was becoming very difficult. I noticed that I liked all the technical stuff I was learning at work but did not like the business side of ICT I was learning at school. I decided to drop school and put all my effort in my job. A year had passed and I had learned a lot more about computers, networking, printers and Microsoft office. I was good at my job and could solve a lot of problems just by determination. It was now 2000. This was the time that a lot of these ICT employment agencies had realized that they had employed a lot of inexperienced people and gave them all brand new cars. The expected IT catastrophe in the year 2000 did not occur and a lot of these employees were obsolete and very expensive to maintain. Only the very experienced were offered indefinite job contracts and they started firing the less experienced. Last to come first to go… After 1 year I had no job and no education. I had gained a lot of new skills though. I was now not only an expert at solving computer and windows problems but could now also solve Microsoft Office, Printer, and other kinds of problems. This was still not good enough to convince potential employers to give me a job. I found myself working at the Koniklijke Bibliotheek in the restaurant doing dishes again and bringing coffee around. In the meanwhile I applied for every helpdesk job I could find. Every day I was getting more frustrated because I was not able to secure my plan A. My plan A that should eventually become my backup plan B when I would get the chance and financial security to fully go for the main dream, music production. Every day my dream of producing music was getting further and further away. I landed some jobs helping IT companies with software migration jobs. This was no helpdesk work but it still was IT related and I was glad to put it on my “young” IT CV. They were very fond of me at the Koninklijke Bibliotheek and supported my quest for making a living in the IT branch. When an IT project ended and I had no job they would, when possible, take me back and I could work there until I landed another IT related job. About two years had passed now and I still was not able to land a helpdesk job and I was living at momma’s house. The alternating between IT related work and dish washing started to stand out on my CV and I realized that this was not good. One day on my way to work at the Koninklijke Bibliotheek I was reading the job section of the Metro newspaper and noticed an ad where they were looking for Dutch, English, German or Spanish speaking helpdesk employees for a big packages delivery company with an office in Dublin Ireland. I was sure I landed the jackpot that day. From these 4 languages I spoke 3 of them fluently (still not able to understand or speak the German language…). I contacted them and they told me that they would send a representative to the Netherlands to take the interviews with potential employees. This was I think in January 2003. The company’s representative invited all the job applicants to an interview at the grand café at Rotterdam central station. I was able to convince the interviewer of my eagerness to learn and my determination to solve every problem thrown at me. The fact that I spoke Dutch, Spanish and English fluently was key in landing the Job. At the end of the interview he asked if I could start next week! YEAH!! I was back in business! I asked them if I could start the first of April so I could have the time to save some money and to prepare and say goodbye to friends and family. The 28 of March I went to Ireland and a new adventure started.
The salary was not much and my contract was not indefinite but I was back on track regarding securing my backup plan in case the music production did not work. Internet was revolutionizing Europe and the connection speeds were getting faster and faster by the month. More and more software was illegally available through internet and software that before was only available by paying big money was now available to install, test and play with for “free”. This was also true for software applications used in the music production industry. Where before you had 1 or 2 software companies that sold this music production software now you had at least 10 companies making these kind of software that were all good enough to be used at professional music recording studios. The music production software monopoly had been broken by the competition of new companies that profited from the internet revolution and the ever faster becoming computers. Before this revolution you had to pay at least 15000 euros for the software and special computers to be able to produce music in the big studios and you still had to buy all the gear to connect to these software programs (Synthesizers, Drum machines, Effects racks, Equalizers, compressors, Limiters each costing at least a few thousand euros to mention but a few). Now, due to the killing competition, it was slowly becoming possible to install the same software on your computer at home for 1000 euros instead of 15000. But why pay 1000 euros if you could download it illegally right? So now for the first time I was able to explore and “play” with the software applications used at the big music production companies. Could not afford the gear to completely benefit from the software but at least I was now able to play with the software and use sound samples that came with the software to experiment with it. Still needed the expensive gear for making my own sounds and beats but for now the samples were good enough.
For the first time I felt that my music making dream was getting closer and that it was also getting less expensive to pursue. I was now almost a year in Dublin and had gained a lot more experience in helpdesk work. They loved me over there. I was doing work for the Dutch helpdesk team, for the Spanish helpdesk team and my English had greatly improved and I was also doing helpdesk work for the English team. I felt it was time to slowly start pursuing my music production dream. I started doing research for the best way to go about it. Everybody in Ireland told me that if I was seriously about the music production that I had to go to Manchester UK. After the United States this was the next best thing regarding music production, studios and anything regarding music education. Manchester is the European Capital of music. I started contemplating the idea of looking for a helpdesk job in Manchester to be able to be closer to achieving my dream. A colleague at work had a friend that worked for a IT company in Manchester and I asked him if his friend could introduce me. I sent my CV that by now had a lot more IT skills and experience plus my languages advantage. They setup an interview through the telephone and the guy doing the interview was a Spanish citizen and of course I started to speak in Spanish with the guy and it was a nice conversation. He was amazed about my English and wondered how I was able to speak English so well and with little accent. I told him that the reason we Dutch can speak English so well is because of subtitles. I told him that if the Spanish, Germans and French want to learn to speak English fluently and with little accent that they should stop dubbing all these English movies and TV programs and start using subtitles. In this way they could hear the English language and start learning how to speak English correctly and also train their pronunciation so to speak it with little to no accent. The guy loved my theory and at the end of the interview he offered me a helpdesk job at their office in Manchester for the English and the Spanish teams. After exactly 1 year and 1 day of living and working in Dublin Ireland, I moved to Manchester and my next adventure started.
Manchester was crazy! It was indeed the European capital of music. The salary was again not much but I was learning a lot of new skills and software applications and I was making a lot of new friends. I went to visit studios and was also researching possibilities to start an education in Music Production in the evenings and although there were a lot of institutions that offered this in Manchester these courses were very expensive. These courses ranged in prices between 4000 and 8000 pounds for the full trajectory. I was renting a room at this friendly old lady’s house that was quite expensive . I was not going to be able to start this course in music production anytime soon. So I decided to save money for it.
Then just before I had chosen an institution for starting my music career my mother got sick. She was already taking about a dozen of different pills to control her Diabetes, her high blood pressure and her arthritis. The diabetes pills were not enough anymore and she had to start injecting insulin. But now she had heart problems and needed to install a pacemaker. All these conditions altogether made it very dangerous for her to be operated on. Doctors told her that putting her under narcosis would be a great risk and that there was a big chance that her body could not survive this. The decision was made not to put her under narcosis and to use local anesthesia for installing the pacemaker. She was awake during this procedure. Tough lady. All my brothers had wives and children and lived far away from mom and worked jobs with nightshifts. They just did not have the time to take care of our old lady 24/7. My mother’s boyfriend at the time was fighting his own battle with cancer and my mother was a bit lonely and sick. So I made the decision to return to The Netherlands and forget my dream. At least for the time being. At the beginning of 2005 I was back in the Netherlands, no job and a bit depressed because I felt I had failed at achieving my goals. Luckily I gained a lot of experience in helpdesk work. I would start looking for a job at what I was best in, my second passion, helpdesk. I was sure that with my experience in helpdesk work (about 4 years now) and with the good references I should be able to find work in no time. Within a month I was offered to work at an IT helpdesk for a three month during project. The salary was not much. But I was working again and it felt good. In the meanwhile I was looking for a job for when the three months were over. It had to be helpdesk work because that was the only thing I could do. Solve computer problems.
All my previous employers did not find it necessary to pay for expensive Microsoft courses that would prepare you for starting administering whole company computer networks and their servers. They had already the system and network administrators they needed working at their offices and were happy with my helpdesk skills. Going after these courses on my own were a no go for me because these courses were even more expensive than the Music production course I wanted to do. So I accepted the idea that I was going to be a helpdesk engineer for the rest of my IT career. At home I used to make my own network with illegally downloaded server software. Although it would not prepare me for being a system/network administrator I could at least learn how to work with the server software and what a company network consisted of. I taught myself allot about domains and how they work and what the main servers needed in a company network were. How they communicated with each other and how an email server worked. It was by miles not enough to even come close to everything you need to know to be able to maintain such a network but maybe together with my determination it would be some day good enough to land me a network administrator career and learn from there on.
After the three months project was over I was without a job. Almost a month passed by and the employment agency send me an application for two jobs. Both were helpdesk positions. I went to the first job’s interview near Amsterdam and this was for a big company. They were planning on starting a new helpdesk and they offered me to help them with this. I would need to go to Singapore for a 1 month course and after that I would help them to setup this helpdesk from scratch. I would get a company car and a laptop and there was a small chance that I could lead this helpdesk. I would be stationed somewhere far from Zoetermeer (Think it was Arnhem) but that should not be a problem with the company car. I was glad and proud that I was offered this job and accepted their offer right away. On the way home I was glad and was already thinking of the good times I would have in Singapore during this course. Then I remembered that the second interview was planned for the next day. This interview had by now become obsolete. I was going to cancel that interview but something told me to just go and check what it was all about. It was in Zoetermeer, my home town, and the company’s name was and still is Seaway Heavy Lifting.
I had already accepted the first job offer and went to SHL out of curiosity and was convinced that it would be a normal interview and that after it our ways would part and I would go to Singapore and come back to lead a helpdesk and go to work in a company car. That was until I met Karel Ruijbroek and Fred Vreeswijk. This was the strangest interview I had ever experienced. There was no tension and we were laughing during the whole interview. Fred was at the time IT Manager and Karel was System & Network Administrator / Consultant. People that know Fred know how funny he can be and he was making funny jokes during the whole interview. I am sure Karel was a little embarrassed by Fred but he assured me that Fred can be serious when he does his best. Of course we laughed about this and it was as if we knew each other a long time. During the interview I noticed that although Fred was the IT manager at the time, that it was actually Karel the called the shots. Karel lead the interview and was asking the smart questions. Fred confirmed this during the interview saying that he only signed papers and that Karel was the IT master brain behind the whole network. Again we laughed about this. I told them about my passion for solving computer problems and I think they were convinced that I had it in me to fill the position of helpdesk engineer. Karel gave me a tour of the building and showed me the server rack. During the tour he made it clear that this was not an IT company but an offshore company. IT companies would (still at that time) by default give their employees company cars and laptops but this was not such a company. He also told me that the position was for helpdesk only and that if I had the ambition of becoming a network or system administrator anytime soon that this was not going to be possible. At least, not in the near future. If that was my ambition that it was better for me to apply for a job at an IT company. You must understand that every helpdesk engineer’s dream is that their current or next employer pays for the very expensive Microsoft courses (12000 Euros) that would teach and prepare them for the task of designing and maintaining a company network. This also means that you could put this on your CV and would start earning a very very good salary compared to that of a helpdesk engineer. The possibilities regarding these courses are always asked by helpdesk engineers during job interviews. After the tour we said goodbye and they would let me know through the employment agency if I would be invited to a second interview. They had still a few interviews for the position. The next day the employment company called me and told me that Seaway wanted to invite me for a second interview and asked if I could make it that same day. I said yes. On my way to Seaway I started comparing the first offer and SHL’s offer. Singapore, starting a new helpdesk from scratch, possibly leading this helpdesk, company car and company laptop versus Helpdesk work with no option in the near future to become a network/system administrator. Although the first option sounds better the second had something that felt very right. During the interview at SHL these 2 guys made me feel like we knew each other a long time, like we were friends and not complete strangers at an interview. They made me laugh every 5 minutes and showed me a possible nice future with lots of laughing and fun working for Seaway. When I arrived at SHL for the second interview we sat down in a meeting room and Fred started making jokes right away and we all laughed and then Karel asked me if I still was interested in the Job. I did not hesitate for a second and accepted the job right away together with all its benefits like laughing, good feeling, no traffic jams, friendship and the best salary I had ever had up until then. I was happy with this new opportunity and thanked them for it. When I left the building I took the bus back home and called the other company whose offer I had accepted told them I did not want the position anymore. The girl that interviewed me that day did not understand why I did not want this big opportunity any more. I told her that SHL made me an offer I just couldn’t refuse. And so my new adventure at Seaway Heavy Lifting started.
24 May 2005 was my first workday at SHL. When I started at SHL there were 86 people working at the office. Fred was IT manager, Karel was Network/System Administrator and I was the helpdesk. I was very proud that I was the only helpdesk guy around and that I had the privilege to solve all 86 employees’ computer problems. I was fascinated by the offshore world. It is a small world and everyone knew everyone. I had been working for a bit more than 6 months for SHL and Karel was convinced that I would be a good permanent helpdesk engineer and he convinced the CEO of this and on the first of December 2005 SHL offered me a contract for indefinite time and a better salary. I went home and cried that day. I celebrated with my family and some friends and was proud of this achievement. For the first time ever someone noticed the passion I had for helpdesk work and rewarded that with the security of an indefinite contract. There I was, 30 years old and for the first time able to contemplate the idea of renting a house without having to worry of losing it if I lost my job any time soon. It is true what they say. The longer you wait, the better it gets. I was sure I was now able to search for a house and finally leave momma’s house and maybe even start building a studio at this new house. By now it was a lot easier and a whole lot less expensive to have a studio at home. A lot of the gear needed in a studio was now being virtualized on the computers. Now instead of buying a hardware version of a compressor for 1000 or more euros you can now buy a software version of the same compressor for 200 euros. Now in 2012 you can have a home studio with all the gear used at professional studios and all you need is a powerful laptop, a few thousand euros and a spare room in the house. My dream was now closer than ever. I had finally, after 6 years of hard work, struggle and pure determination, achieve my goal of securing my future in the IT branch. Securing my backup plan, my plan B. I could now go on a house hunting trip and back that up with an indefinite job contract. What a joy what a joy. That was until I found out what the requirements for renting a house were. If you want to rent a house that is not in the social sector where you have to apply for that house in the newspaper through a special pass and hope that the 10, 20 or 30 applicants before you would not want the house, your only option was to rent a house through the private sector. The thing about the private sector is that they assume that if you earn good enough to not need to apply for a house in the social sector that you automatically are earning a super salary. If you search the internet for houses in the private sector and check the salary requirements for them you will find that all these “makelaars” with no exception require you to earn 4,5 times the rent of the house!!This is absurd and unrealistic. For an average house in the private sector you pay a rent of 850 euros but 900 1000 and 1100 euros are more common prices. Occasionally if you were lucky you would find a house for 700 euros. Now 700 times 4,5 is 3150 Euro! For an independent guy like me that meant that I would have to earn at least 3150 euros a month to be able to rent the least expensive houses offered by these agencies. For the more common houses I would have to earn at least 3825 euros a month. I have had many arguments with many of these agencies regarding their unrealistic salary requirements for renting a house. All in vain. I did not even come close to earning such a salary with my helpdesk engineer’s job at SHL. Hell, I think most people in the Netherlands don’t come close to earning that kind of salary. So unfair to require you to earn at least 4,5 times the rent. If I earned 4 times the rent they might have closed an eye and let me rent a house but the salary was just too low for these thieves to risk on me, this independent late starter. Many of them advised me to get a girlfriend. That would make it easier because of two salaries that together might come closer to the salary requirements. It would also make it easier for them to close an eye regarding this requirement because they then would have two persons they could held responsible in case shit happened. The nerves… The same was true for buying a house. I could not yet afford to buy a house on my own. I would need at least 3 rooms, 1 for me, one for guests and a big room to convert into a studio. I would have to wait a few more years before I could fully backup my music production dream. Oh well, if I had waited 6 years now, I surely could wait another 6 years. Luckily for me you can never be too old for making music.
The next 7 years I have poured my heart, soul and time into SHL and they have done the same towards me. I would need another 10 pages to tell you how, with the help, love and support of Karel, I went from a helpdesk engineer earning not enough to rent or buy a decent house to a network/system administrator earning enough to independently in September 2011 buy a beautiful 4 bedroom house. I finally have all the gear needed for my studio at home.
Seaway Heavy Lifting and in special Karel Ruijbroek have helped me achieve wonderful things not only in my life but also in other people’s lives.
Thank you SHL and Karel for believing in me and being the first ones to offer me the security we all want, to be able to plan our future.
Thank you Karel for not being only a colleague and a boss but mainly a good friend I can always count on.
Thank you Karel for not employing a Network Administrator when you became IT Manager but instead gave me the chance, trust and the time to become one.
Thank you Karel for combining your first two years as ICT Manager with Network Administrator work to teach me the skills needed to manage Seaway’s network. You could have employed a Network Administrator and start fulfilling your well-deserved Manager position but you decided to invest two of your Manager years into teaching me how to become a good Network Administrator. Only someone that is more than your colleague and your Manager would do that. A very good friend.
When you don’t have a partner and kids like me and you still live at your momma’s house you have a lot more money left on your bank account at the end of the month than the rest of your family and friends. During the 6 years of waiting for the time that I could earn enough to buy a house big enough to fulfill my dreams I have been able to help many family members and friends with their problems and needs.
Thank you Karel and SHL for making it possible for me to help family and friends financially so that they could live lifes without stress.
Thank you Karel and SHL for making it possible for me to put my mother in a house she cannot afford with a button in every room that she can press in case she doesn’t feel well.
Thank you Karel and SHL for making it possible for me to every month pay my momma’s phone bill, electricity bill, water bill, and TV bill.
Thank you Karel and SHL for making it possible for me to send momma on a vacation to Curacao every year in February for carnival and paying her rent and health care for that month so that she can have some pocket money to spend.
Thank you Karel and SHL for making it possible for me to fulfill that dream that every son or daughter of poor parents have when they are young. ”When I grow up and have a good job, you will never again have to work cleaning toilets momma. I’ll buy you a big house and pay all your bills”. Believe me! The Big House is on its way!
Thank you Karel and SHL for making it possible for me to help my father and his wife in difficult times. They can now have a good sleep and enjoy their pension without stress.
Thank you Karel and SHL for making it possible for me to help out a niece that was living in poverty in Colombia with her three young daughters.
Thank you Karel and SHL for making it possible for me to pay for my niece’s, her daughter’s and an uncle’s healthcare (very cheap compared to here).
I could go on and on with the list of all the help I have been able to give to family and friends thanks to SHL and specially Karel. You have helped me to be a better person and to help people in need of a hand. I have done this with all the joy in my heart and expecting nothing in return. This is why I know that God won’t fail me in these difficult times.
End of august I have been diagnosed with Cancer in my Lymph system. This cancer is not curable. Chemo won’t help. This cancer is very rare with people of my age. It is more common with older people and with young children. Because of my age and strength I might be able to live longer than average. You have 4 degrees in stages and I am in the fourth degree, this means that it has spread to all the lymph’s in my body and in my marrow. Eventually I would get anemia when the cancer reaches my bloodstream. The specialist says that normally in the fourth degree you could live 5 to 10 years. Cases are known of people who have lived 15 and even 20 years with lymphoma, especially people from my age. In other words I would be very lucky if I would make it to 50… I say fuck that! No doctor is going to tell me when I am going to die without at least taking in consideration my believes and more important my determination to live! These last two years I have seen many friends and 2 Seaway Colleagues die from cancer. What I have noticed in all these cases without exception is that as soon as they heard the diagnose from the specialist that they all died within 6 months. The most of them within 3 months. This tells me something very important. It tells me that the human mind is a powerful thing. It tells me that when the mind goes into “death mode” that there is nothing that can help you. These are people that did not know they had cancer but lived with it for years. But as soon as they heard the diagnose, those mind and spirit killing words from the doctor, “you have cancer” they all died within a few months. I often wonder how much longer they would have lived with their disease if they had not heard those mind and spirit killing words, “you have cancer”. Now, if the mind is so powerful to make you give up and die within a few months of the diagnose, it surely has to be powerful enough to do the other thing around. This is exactly what I am going to do! I am going to cure myself by pure willpower and determination. I am lucky that I have my believes. I believe in God and during my whole life he has helped me out of many problems I have had. Many times he has done this last minute as if wanting to show me that how desperate the situation is that he would deliver. This is why I truly do not worry AT ALL about my cancer. I have not permitted my mind and spirit to go into “death mode” because I know for sure that I can and will cure myself.
I got the diagnose in the last week of august and had the whole of September free. In this month at home I decided that I was not going to die from cancer. The first of October I started again at the office but something had changed. For the first time since 24 may 2005 I did not have a big smile on my face when coming to work. Before October 1 2012 I had managed to come with a big smile to work every single day since 24 May 2005 without missing one day. That is only possible if you are passionate about your work. Not many people have the luck to have a job that they actually love. I have been blessed in that. But now something had changed. Now more than ever something was calling on to me. Something I had been carefully planning for the last 15 years. My dream… The dream that, as you have been able to read, has determined EVERY decision I have made these last 15 years, for the sole purpose of achieving it. Although I am convinced that I am going to cure from this cancer, I can’t seem to dismiss the feeling that now I have this clock that is ticking. I am not afraid of dying. If there is something I am afraid of, that would be lying on my deathbed regretting not having pursued and accomplished this dream. I planned to do this slowly but surely but now cancer happened. If there was a time to start pursuing this dream then it is now. If I would have any doubts that I couldn’t make it in the music production I wouldn’t even try to pursue it. That is how sure I am about my talent. The time has come. As from 1 January 2013 and with pain in my heart I will leave my beloved Seaway and start dedicating all my time into producing music. I will start making a living from it and I am sure that the passion and love I put in it will help me to cure myself. I’ll be the miracle case you read in newspapers. I’ll be that guy that miraculously cured from cancer. Cured by love, faith and pure determination. That is a promise!
I have not told a lot of people about my cancer because I do not want to be treated as if I have been “written off” already. I have only told my mother, brothers, best friends, IT department friends, some people at HR and the management. I have not told my father because these last 2 months he is very ill in hospital and the last thing he needs is this news. I want you to know that I don’t feel sorry for myself and don’t expect or want you to feel sorry for me. I don’t expect or want you to come to me to tell me how awful you find my situation. A smile from you will be more than enough to show me that you have faith in me. Don’t write me off yet! I will amaze you. You wait and see
I would like to keep my Facebook timeline free of encouraging messages. I need people to treat me as usual if I am to stay in this state of mind. Constant reminder of my cancer will only make me doubt and make it difficult for me to keep the right focus and determination. I did not want to tell anyone except family and close friends of my cancer but you deserve to know it. You, my colleagues, the people I have worked with these last 8 years. The people I have been seeing more often than my own family and best friends. You, my Seaway Family.
Don’t think I will forget you! I will still come to the office very often and I plan to be there for every party and every achievement SHL has. I won’t forsake you and I know you won’t forsake me.
Love you all. Thank you for being you and for having giving me all this love for these past years.
Be good, God bless you all.
Now you know how serious I am about this Music Producing thing! Now you know that this is my destiny!
And now that you know this you are prepared to understand my next coming blogs. Now you are prepared to understand what a determined mind is capable of.
In my next blog I will continue my long story and tell you my believes about faith, religion and I will tell you some of the things that happened to me that helped shape my view about religion and faith. The reason I smile even now and not dispair.
Love you guys,