Thursday, October 30, 2008


What happens when your kids are smarter than you are?

I said to V yesterday, "Look! A tractor." He said in a pitying voice, "No mama, it's a bulldozer. Little brat.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Shit Wars; Welcome to the neighborhood!

There's always a dog poop freak in the neighborhood.

So I was on my way to my new favorite supermarket at 9:30 on Saturday morning. We didn't have ANY coffee or cream, and it was a cruel and unusual way to start the weekend, so as soon as D was up, I headed out for coffee, so we would be able to speak.

On my way out, D said "Here, take the dog with you," so I did.

We have a small dog - a Maltese - named Yip (spelled "Jip" in Dutch).

There are these cute cottages in our neighborhood on the way to the store, and I like to walk by them because they are so picturesque. They are retirement homes, so only old (cranky) people live there.

Jip started to sniff a bush in front of one of the houses - on the street in front, mind you - when I heard pounding. There was an old lady pounding on her window yelling "Get that damn dog out of here!"

At first, I didn't think she was talking to me. What does she care if Jip smells a bush on the street. Then he peed there. Like, 5 whole drops. She started screeching like I had thrown acid in her face.

I saw Jip getting ready to poop, and normally I would have moved him to the curb, but I just let him go, since I was going to pick it up anyways.

So this crazy old broad comes out of her house swearing and yelling at me, prompting me to, you guessed it, walk away from the crime scene. I'm not going to be bullied by some geriatric nut job.

Not having the full command of the Dutch language, I didn't' say anything as I walked away shaking my head with her cursing me and yelling the whole time.

I would have picked it up. I really would have. People need to calm down and mind their business.

The best was yet to come, however.

I walked out of the supermarket, and there she was. Yelling at me like a poop-crazed octogenarian. This time I couldn't be quiet.

I said "Geez, if you had just acted normal I would have picked it up. I always have bags with me, see??" I showed her one.

She says "What am I supposed to do, get on my knees and beg?" (What an irritating old @%#&%.)

I say "No, but 'could you please pick that up' would have worked better than 'get that damn dog out of here.' I would have gladly picked it up, you annoying bitch." It just slipped out. I swear.

She said "No, you are." OK, now this is just childish.

I said "Thank you. Now I am going to walk by your house again. I hope he has to poop some more."

I wish my Dutch were better, but that was the best I could do under pressure. And I hadn't had my coffee.

But for real, on my way back, I picked up the crap. And put it on her doorstep. I thought it was only fair. She's lucky I didn't smear it on the doorknob.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

My own little sea lion

My son has the croup. He woke up last night barking like a sea lion. The croup. What makes it "the"? Is it because it's mysterious enough that it has to be addressed formally?

I'm reminded of Neil Simon plays where people get "the cancer" and "the rheumatism."

I do love the expression/meme "teh ghey," as in, "Don't let your son perform in too many Neil Simon plays, or he might get 'the gay.' (Check, teh ghey.)

Do people still really think you can catch gayness? That's like the article I saw the other day on (I got to reference two of my most favorite sites in one entry. Huzzah!) It was about the association or organization of people who STILL think the world is flat. Flat. The world. As in, fall off the edge.

I guess they've modified their "beliefs" now to admitting that the world is "saucer shaped" and ringed by ice - explaining the farce that we would call the North and South poles.

A flat world. Now THAT is teh ghey.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Should shopping make you cry?

Everyone already knows about my deep and abiding hate for AH, but now that I don't live in the Center anymore, I have a new grocery store, and I am in love with it. I wish I could roll naked in the aisles, giggling uncontrollably.

It's called C1000, and it's almost like shopping in an American supermarket. When I went in for the first time and saw how big it was and how much selection there was, I swear, a tear came to my eye. I am so pathetic.

Not only was the staff knowledgeable, they were also polite. Where the hell am I?

Of course, they still only have about 6 kinds of breakfast cereal instead of the aisle-long homage to sugar that we have at home. Fucking amateurs.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A Moving Experience

So, we moved on Saturday. D got a great big truck (which he actually has a license to drive - how cool is that?) and we did the whole Amsterdam house-hook-pulley-thingy out the window.

Here's how it was different from moving in America:

* The people who said they'd come to help actually showed up.

* No one bailed early.

* My neighbor INSISTED on watching the kids for me. Not for half the day. All day. Longer if necessary.

* All our shit dangled three stories over the street from a rope and no one even acted like it was weird.

And most incredibly...
* Our friends couldn't bear to leave the new house until it was all set up.

I couldn't believe the lack of whining. I really couldn't. I have moved a few times, and I have helped others move, and there has always been whining. "WHERE does this have to go?", "HOW many flights?", "Are we almost done?", "Don't we need more beer...?"

It went more smoothly than imaginable, and we couldn't have been happier.

We were planning on tossing everything in the main living space and then sorting it through the next few days. My mother-in-law and our (heretofore dear) friend wouldn't have any of it.

I went to bed exhausted at 11:30 and the house looked like this:

When I came down the next morning at 6 (I have an infant, remember?) It looked like this:

And let's not forget my sons' room:

This is less than 20 hours after we started moving. Do I have the greatest mother-in-law and friends, or what? I did cry a little. More than once.

I normally would be freaked out about posting something as personal as pictures of my house on the Internet, but it was so frigging impressive that the coolness outweighed the skeeviness.

Tomorrow I will put up some pics of the remarkably simple yet ingenious Dutch rope/pulley/truck moving system. It makes too much sense to be used in the US. Well, the in US we have the sense to live sprawled out on one or two floors instead of squeezed into houses as narrow as bread sticks with one room on each level. I guess it evens out.

Slap me silly...

Sorry I have been such a bad writer lately, but we just moved to our new house. A REAL house. I am going to post some pics of the amazing job my mother-in-law and our friend did decorating overnight while I slept. It was like a home makeover show. They were up all night like the Elves and the Shoemaker.

I promise I'll post again later or tomorrow. Things have been hectic and we only just got the Internet running again. I also just got a book to edit from my publisher, so Paul, if you're reading this, I'm, uh, working on it...

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

It all comes out in the wash

I won't sell my dishwasher for 80 euros. I won't do it. I don't care if we are moving Saturday and have to carry it 10 miles and store it in the middle of the living room. I'd rather chop it into pieces and eat it than take so little for it.

D gave me a hard time for not taking 80 euros when a guy and his wife came to look at it. I wanted 100, he bid 75 online and wanted to come see it. He upped it to 80. I said 90, he said 80, I said 85. He said 80. I said "thanks for coming. Don't let the door hit you on the ass when you leave."

First, he said it was too big. Then, no, maybe it would fit, but there's a little scratch on it. Then he said he saw another one without the plastic cover for 35 euros. Then it wasn't a good enough brand name for me to get 100 for it.

My father told me I did the right thing. (My father is dead, but he still talks to me sometimes. I know it's weird, just take it as a given and don't worry about my mental state.)

My dad had negotiating and bargaining in his genes. (He was an Arab, and they're cool like that) and I think I did what he would have done.

He taught me that you always have to be ready to walk away. Really walk away. He also taught me that there is always another one like it, no matter what "it" is. You think you'll never find something as unique or cheap or pretty - whether it's a house, a car, ahem - a dishwasher, or what have you.

Now if he was REALLY right, they'll call me again tomorrow having changed their minds. I'll let you know.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

It's Snot Easy

I love my kids. I really do love them more than anything. That's a good thing, too, because I think they are trying to kill me.

Chekhov said "Any idiot can handle a crisis; it's the day-to-day living that wears you out." Though I'm sure that was much truer in the time and place he lived, sometimes I find myself mulling his wisdom, especially when I think of the concessions I have made in my life that I never would have imagined.

There are many things I took for granted when I was single, and I don't want any childless person to become jaded about them. Here are only a few of the things you should know:

1) You'll never have a hot meal again. Someone always needs something when you sit down to eat. If you are lucky enough to get to your plate while it's still warm, choke it down fast before someone needs a diaper change, or wakes up screaming. That way, you can just have indigestion instead of frustration.

2) Forget being alone in the bathroom. I am the most popular person in the world when I close the door to the bathroom. Everyone wants me. I'm a porcelain superstar.

3) You'll never shop the way you used to. There's no more buying $200 purses or gratuitous shoe-shopping. You'll never go shopping for yourself without a twinge of guilt, and you'll never come home without something for everyone else, just to make it "fair."

4) There's no secret snacking. You'll never eat anything between meals without at least one person asking "What's in your mouth?" and the painful "Let me see," once you answer.

5) You will never, EVER, EVER sleep again. You like to think you will, "once the baby's a little older," "once everyone is in their own bed/room for the whole night," etc... The truth is, you will never make it through a whole night again without waking, worrying or wondering.

You think it's great when the baby sleeps for a few hours, until you bolt awake because it occurs to you that he could have smothered himself and you'd never know; or the monitor somehow broke and he's screaming his head off, all alone.

Then you dream that something bad has happened, and you wake up frightened enough to go and peer at their little faces again, one more time before you settle down.

I imagine it never goes away, even when they are grown. You'll always wonder where they are, how they are, and if they are remembering to breathe in their sleep.

6) You will do things that used to horrify and disgust you without flinching. On any given day, you'll touch about 5 different bodily substances. Wash your hands. Wash them again.

You'll sniff your child's ass in public. You'll catch their vomit in your hands to keep it off the rug. You'll pick up dead mice to spare the kids seeing them. You'll wipe noses with your t-shirts and wipe smudges from their faces with your own spit.

It is a dirty, filthy, pissy, shitty business. On good days.

My advice to you: Don't be bored. Ever. You'll be mad at yourself for not picking your ass up off the couch and doing something. On second thought, sit there. Sit there, you lucky bastard with your mouth hanging open and potato chip crumbs on your snot-free shirt. Once you have kids you'll never be doing nothing again.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Baby Boy

My "baby" will be 3 years old tomorrow, or as he says "Ik ben drie jatig oud." Very incorrect and super cute.

(Meanwhile, my "new" baby is 5 months old. That's almost 6 months old, which is half a year. How can that be? I JUST had him.)

We bought him what he asked for - a ride-on toy tractor for the new house. We have it all set up and filled with toys on our dining room table. Thinking of the way his face will light up when he sees it makes it feel like Christmas for me.

Moving to the country...just kidding

We're moving. In a week. We bought a house.

I am very excited, but conflicted about leaving the heart of the city. Added to that, my current apartment is HUGE, even measured by standards outside of Holland. We have 7 rooms plus the kitchen and an attic that is probably 400 square feet. And it's cheap. Why should we leave?

Well, for one thing, this place is falling apart. For another, the construction is very old and shoddy. You can hear everything, and I do mean EVERYTHING going on in the building.

I will not miss hearing everything my neighbors are doing, like giving birth (don't get me started on that one), playing the violin, or taking a crap. I'll wake in the morning to my own alarm, instead of the ones of all my neighbors. I'll stop mentally saying "bless you" everytime someone else with their balcony door open sneezes. (It happens a lot more than you would think.)

One thing I will miss is the green parrots that live in the small yards between the back of our building and the one behind it. There are hundreds of parrots that live in my neighborhood. They were escaped housepets that established a community in the wild, much like those parakeets in California.

I'll miss our little park and the beautiful architecture of our neighborhood. But most of all, no one will ever shoot up under my window, or yak on my front doorstep again. And I'll really miss it.