Thursday, December 31, 2009

Bakfiets boom

I finally had my bakfiets fixed. The brakes barely worked at all, and I had to pretty much jump off every time I wanted to stop - not ideal when your precious crotch fruit is riding in front of you depending on you for their safety.

I rode it away from the shop (without the kids) and I thought "hmm, something is up with the gears." So I hit it hard so I could switch the gears back and forth.

Well, it had just snowed, and though there was a lot on the sidewalks most of the roads were clear. MOST of them.

I hit a patch of ice, and for the first time EVER, I bit it on the bakfiets. Fortunately, it could have been a lot worse, I just skidded to the ground, catching the bike before it hit, but hitting the ground myself. (Screw the mama - SAVE THE BIKE!)

I tell my mom this storty and she's horrified: "Oh my GOD! Did anyone help you? I mean, how did you get up? Were you hurt?"

ME: "Mom, I fell down and I got back up. What do you think I did, roll around on the ground moaning? I didn't need help."

HER: "No, but someone should have helped you!"

ME: "Help me do what?"

HER: "I don't know - get up?"

Nope. I've been in Holland long enough that I know to stand up, move on and act like nothing ever happened.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas in Purgatory or just Groundhog Day?

I promise I'll put on my happy face and write you all some more nice Amsterdam anecdotes this weekend. I have a nice story from a friend that I will post about Holland's favorite cookies: Stroopwafels.

If you want to read my depressing Christmas musings, highlight the text below, which I have blacked out in honor of those who don't want to be brought down. If not, I can't say I blame you in the slightest. Have a great Christmas!

I was hoping for a little warmth on Christmas. We got snow here in Holland. What a nice thing to wake up to on Christmas morning...only it's not Christmas morning, because we're waiting for my stepdaughter to get here before celebrating.

There are presents under the tree for everyone. Except me of course. Thankfully I had the foresight to buy myself some consolation prizes in place of being thought of; or even in place of the sense of obligation MOST partners feel to at least buy some kind of token gift. I grudgingly got a Christmas hug with about half the enthusiasm of hugging a friend's mother.

At least at my new job I get to hang out with people from all over the world who are just as homesick as I am. An English guy misses fish and chips; an East German misses the snow; everyone misses the people who cared about them.

I feel like I am being crushed by my own grief.
x

Thursday, December 10, 2009

I can't do it anymore

It's probably over. I can't do it anymore. I feel like my life is ending and I am heartbroken. I am sorry that I need love to survive, but I am tired of living without it. I am tired of what a lie it has been for so long.

It's not good enough. It's not good enough for my kids. I'm destitute and desperate, but breaking my back trying.

I know why you can die of a broken heart. I know why we get old. It's not the passing of years, it's years of grief, worry and heart-sickness.

I feel like I should at least make some kind of joke about the last couple sentences being Haikus, or something...

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Could it be?

Yesterday I gave the kid a bottle at 3:30 - he screamed for an hour, then slept until 8. This morning I gave him a bottle at 5:30, thinking "shit, I think he's up now," and he went back to sleep (or at least pretended to) until 7.

I could get used to the extra couple hours sleep, especially with my new job starting next week. Please, please, please, please don't let it be a fluke. (I do most of my praying at 5 a.m. these days.)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Back to work...!?!

Sorry I have been so quiet of late. I got a job. An honest-to-good, out of the house, in the office, non-drug-selling job. Not even a McJob. An editing job - you know, like I used to do BC (before children).

I am still a little stunned to have been hired. They gave me an editing test, then invited me back for an interview. Then they asked me to meet the manager. The manager gave me the "do you have any questions for me?" question about 30 minutes into our conversation. I said "Yes. How do I stand up to the competition?" She says, "Well, I can congratulate you, because you're hired."

I acted all cool, but I am inwardly thinking "WTF?! Can she do that? Now? I'm hired NOW?" Then I though "Fuck, fuck, fuck - the KIDS." I was sitting there all nonchalant while my heart is screaming to me about how I am going to be such a traitor to my children. The guilt washed over me in buckets. I'd wanted the job, but did I want it this badly?

She wants me to start the 14th - as in, in less than two weeks. I calmly told her "no problem." (FUCKFUCKFUCK.)

I am getting the daycare arranged, I am almost there, but I feel like such a bad mother. I'm giving my kids to strangers - all of a sudden - so that I can go to work. They are going to hate me. Not baby M, he's used to daycare already, and the belle of the ball there. It's little Mr. V. He's never known a babysitter in 4 years. I have no family nearby to watch him. He is totally unprepared for this. I am throwing my baby to the wolves.

Everyone says he'll be fine, but I can't shake the guilt. Drop him off early to school, take a bus to Amsterdam Centraal, then a tram, then reverse it and pick him up after dark. How can I do this? On the other hand. How can I NOT do this? It's a great opportunity, and I was chosen from a pool of 200 candidates. Two hundred. They wanted ME. Do you have any idea how good that feels after being nothing but a food source, housekeeper and dog-walker for the last 4 years?

I love the kids, but I've had it. I need something else. But do I need it like this? I understand why working mothers have it so hard. This is heart-wrenching. And the logistics are back-breaking - Bike, bus, tram...pick up from the sitter in the freezing cold on a BIKE, then back to the daycare center to pick up the baby...on a bike. Dinner and tub and bed all before D gets home from work. Can I do this?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

I love being a whiner

I don't know what I find more amusing: that people always tell me that you can never get discounts in Holland; or the fact that I always do. I am classically American in this respect.

I will scrap over a nickel if I think I'm getting screwed on purpose. I call the cable company, the heating company, the credit card company - everybody. Especially when there is a late fee. I get my man about 50-75% of the time.

I told D - sometimes if you contest these things, you'll get your money back or get a late fee reversed. It's always worth asking. He SWEARS up and down that that doesn't work in Holland and it embarrasses the hell out of him when I do it. "That's not how we do things here. Companies don't give you breaks because they don't care." There is also so little competition (there is one heating company in my town with a full monopoly) that you can never threaten to go elsewhere with your business.
Sure, he complains about it, but then secretly brags to his friends about things like this and how they end like this when I'm in charge...)

My tact is always just to wear them down with my whining so they give me a discount to get me to shut up. I have TOTALLY lost any pride I had about these things when I had kids and started struggling. Especially a couple years ago when we were really broke and D was unemployed. I have stopped giving a flying fuck about what people think. It's a little alarming, but sort of liberating too. (My 20-year-old self would be mortified by my self of today.)

I remember in my father's clothing store, people used to ask me for discounts all the time. I would be polite, but sneer inwardly thinking "what a cheapskate." My dad was the world's greatest negotiator, and when I told him it made me feel stupid to argue about a few bucks, he'd always say "whose pocket is it better in - yours or theirs?"

Dutch people are notoriously frugal - why the F don't they ask for discounts? I got 79 euros off the new mattress that I bought this week. OK, compared to the total bill, it was a drop in the bucket, but if I found 79 euros on the street, I'd fucking pick it up. Wouldn't you?

Of course, I will also spend 200 euros on something worth 100 euros if I really, really want it. That's my cross to bear. Good thing I got that discount, huh?!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

"Holland Sucks"?

The number one search term people enter to get to my blog is "Holland Sucks." Come on. Do I really complain that much?

The SECOND most popular search term to get to my site is "Amsterdam Sucks."

There sure is a lot of sucking going on. I had no idea that I whined enough to put me that high in the search engine for Dutch suckery (or is it "suckerij"?). Wow.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Twittering with excitement

I just started a twitter as amsterdamyank (some assclown already took amsterdamyankee).

I don't know how much I'll use it, considering I pretty much just opened the account because I'm cold and I wanted an excuse to keep the warm laptop on my legs.

You know how I always complain about the small packaging in this country? (The unwitting side effect is that I'm much thinner than I used to be.) Well, I just got a care package from my mother with all kinds of American junkfood. YUUUUUUUUMM. Nice big packages of Oreos, Reeses, Cheez-Its, etc...all my favorites.

As I unpacked it, groaning with joy and eat-lust, it occured to me why Americans are so fat. It's not the food, it's the packaging. There it is, folks. Case closed.

I've almost killed the whole pack of Oreos. Now THAT'S eating a whole box of cookies.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

White, what?

I've got a couple of things bugging me today. Mostly cartoons, but other Dutch weirdnesses too. I mean:

Why do schools here always brag about how few foreigners they have? They proudly say things like "Almost all of our children are Dutch. No foreigners. And the foreign children we do have are all well-assimilated. Not many dark people at all, and only a few Muslims." Is this like, the goal? Dutch people: Don't keep whining about how different you are from the Germans when you encourage this kind of parent-teacher conversation.

Which brings me to cartoons. Dora here is American and speaks English. In the US, she's Mexican-American and speaks Spanish. So it's wicked funny when she visits her grandparents who are like, wearing ponchos and have pet llamas and says stuff like "Dit is mijn opa - 'my grandfather.'" It's like, dude, that's your abuelo, ok?

I actually like that, though. It shows a little about how diverse it is in the US and that everyone is different - but they're still American. Unlike some countries we could mention, Holland.

(As an aside, I overheard D saying to my son one time "Have you ever noticed how Dora needs your help for EVERYTHING? I mean, can't she do anything alone?")

On Boomerang, they have all these great classic cartoons that I remember watching as a kid -or as my stepdaughter calls them "old-fashioned cartoons." Thanks, kid.

My son likes Popeye and I got to thinking, what's up with Olive Oil? Are there NO other women in town? How come they're so hung up on her if she's such a fickle bitch?

Attention Fireman Sam - There are about four people who live in your town. Does it concern you at all that there is a fire on almost EVERY episode? Someone is doing something wrong.

OK, my son is hanging on my because he wants to play a computer game. "Mama, het duurt zo LANG!" His catchphrase.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Resume your curriculum vitae...

I don't really have anything pithy to say today.

I keep applying for jobs, and WTF? I am starting to think everyone else knows something I don't know, like, my resume has a booger hanging out of its nose. I don't think it does, though. Maybe it's because I call it a "resume" when everyone here calls it a "cv." But I don't like to think that my job experience IS my curriculum vitae. I prefer it as a "resume," which I think means "summary" in the Frog.

My curriculum vitae - well, that's actually kind of a complicated question, isn't it? I mean, the "path of my life" (yes, I used to teach Latin. Wait, does that have to go on there then?) is something different.

Defining moments in my life? Nothing to do with work. My son puking on me this morning had more of an effect on me than learning HTML. You really DON'T mind when the puke belongs to your kid. No, really. This is a life lesson.< /duh>

The footnotes on my resume are actually what I'd consider the most important part of my "life path." Speaking Dutch, Spanish, Italian. That shit took a long time to learn. Graduating with a bachelor's degree after having to drop out of school during a major depression? That was hard. Re-enrolling in college and finishing - that was hard. Impressive sounding action verbs and being a "valuable team player" and all that happy horseshit is easy. That's all just crap people make up to sound important.

Another footnote: I have a residency permit and BSN. Does anyone realize what a huge fucking accomplishment that is? While TNT was busy losing my original birth certificate in the mail (can't have a permit without it!), I was uninsured and paying cash to squeeze out my first kid in a foreign country. That's some heavy shit. Oh yeah, and I like, can use Microsoft Office.

Who am I? Multi-tasker? Yeah, not because of work. Hard worker? Yeah, not because of work. Good leader? Yeah, but not because of work. Because life has made me a seriously tough mother who has overcome a lot to be able to take care of my kids. Oh, and able to prioritize and coordinate multiple tasks to complete projects to customer satisfaction. Shut the fuck up and die in a fire.

Friday, October 16, 2009

I ate a whole box of cookies. All 9 of them...


Someone asked me awhile back to list some typical supermarket prices to get an idea about how expensive it is to live here in Yerp.

Bear two things in mind - we're talking about euros, not American pesos; and that packaging is MUCH smaller here, so you get a lot less. Oh, and get this - we pay a "packaging tax" so the stupid fuckers wrap cookies individually within the boxes they sell them in. Prices sound low - 1.54 for a box of cookies - but there are only 9 or 10 in a box.


1.5 liters milk: 1.14
1 liter choc. milk (generic): 0.76
4 rolls of toilet paper: 2.49
1 liter spaghetti sauce; 1.98
60-pack baby wipes (generic): 1.55
Cheese: 6-8 euros/kilo
Chicken breast (on sale!): 3.99/kilo
10 free-range chicken eggs: 1.46.
Loaf whole wheat bread: 1.42

Don't forget the 6% sales tax on food.

Also, you have to run all over creation to get everything you want. I go to Lidl for juice and chicken; C1000 for milk and name brand stuff; and a slew of others to take a look at all the DIFFERENT products they have. One store may have brands you've never even heard of.

I checked every grocery store in my neighborhood (3) to find popcorn kernels. Nowhere to be found. No one carries them. Popcorn.

The next week, I find a whole stack of bags of popping corn nonchalantly hanging out at Vomar. And no one knows ANYTHING.

"Where can I find popcorn?"
"No, idea."
"Where can I find popcorn?"
"Someplace else."

I have to continue this later, because I feel my blood pressure rising in consumer frenzy, and my little son wants me to color with him. Tot zo.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Starting to ignore...


I'm starting to ignore people. Not on purpose, it's just happening because I live here. People avoid eye-contact with strangers, fearing they may have to be polite. I don't get it.

I always tell people who ask that what I miss most about America is the chit-chatting. Anyone in America is potentially a chat buddy.

Here's what I mean. You can talk like this in America to anyone without catching them at all off-guard...

"Wow, what a long line. Is it at least moving?"
"Can you believe the rain today? I just love your umbrella, by the way."
"Nice car. I saw the same one at the dealership. How do you like it?"

If the person in question were to look at you funny or not answer. THEY would be the weird, anti-social person. In which case, you'd invariably say "Okaaaay. Guess not," and give other people in earshot the hairy eyeball, like "can you believe this guy?"

Here, people don't really do that. I get away with it a little more because I am American, but NO ONE will initiate small talk. They just don't do it. And they avoid "embarrassing" situations by not making eye-contact with passersby.

I had something so normal happen that fucked with me in a major way because I realized how much the Dutch is rubbing off on me.

There is a narrow bridge between here and the supermarket. I take my bakfiets over it, but it's a tight squeeze if someone is coming the other direction on foot or on a bike.

On the day in question, an older couple was crossing the bridge slowly. The wife crossed first, and stood admiring the swans on the canal while waiting for her husband (who had a cane) to catch up.

I was barrel-assing home on the bike when I saw them. I stopped the bike and re-adjusted the groceries on my bike rack to make them more stable and to give the man the chance to cross. Here's the scary thing: I didn't NEED to adjust the groceries. They would have been fine. I was AVOIDING having to interact with a stranger without even realizing it! In the US, I would have stopped, smiled and said "Take your time. I have to fix my groceries anyways," to keep him from rushing.

What was amazing (probably because the guy was Surinami and not DUTCH Dutch) is that the man said "Did you stop just for me? You didn't have to," and smiled. Get this. I said "no, I had to adjust my groceries"!!!!!!!! So that he wouldn't feel put out that I changed my plan for him. Because that is what Dutch people do. It may sound subtle - and it is - but anyone who lives here will know what I am talking about.

It's like how when you are on a tram and you accidentally step on someone's foot. They won't even look at you; they'll just take half a step away. Not rude, just not talking. In the US, you'd share embarrassed looks and a "sorry," followed by "no, that's ok."

Really. Go on the tram and try it. I'll wait right here.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

My glamorous European lifestyle

Everyone thinks it's so "GLAMOROUS" to live in Yerp, but I've got news for you: it sucks.

People in N. America seem to think that everyone here is swathed in Italian silks, air-kissing each other at wrought-iron cafe tables. In reality, I spend most of my time just wishing that I could enjoy life instead of getting bogged down in all the day-to-day shit. I worry so much about money that it is gewoon niet normaal. I walk around town pining for all the gorgeous things in boutique windows while simultaneously wondering who the fuck shops there. I can barely get through the month with enough groceries (and we - theoretically - make "good money"). Too many taxes. All our money gets chewed up in BTW and VAT and never comes back (unlike when you return to the US and get a VAT-refund).

Who is buying all the shit this country has to sell? No one has any fucking money. Of course, we aren't up to our eyeballs in consumer debt, either. The government won't even let us spend our OWN money, let alone have a decent line of credit.

Someone once asked me if we didn't just LOVE that the canals are so lovely lit up at night? Yeah, great. The last time my partner and I got to enjoy them was the winter our oldest was born, when we made freezing, late-night/early-morning forced marches all over the city at his colicky command. Precious moments. We've been at the kids' beck and call ever since. If we ever did get some time alone, without the kids, and complete silence, we would just jump directly into bed together...and SLEEP. And sleeping feels pretty much the same in any country.

Oh, but the tiny, overpriced homes are just so CHARMING! I wish we could stay! Wouldn't you just LOVE to live here, darling? Don't do it, you stupid, stupid tourist. Go home and eat yourself senseless at a reasonably-priced restaurant with the change you find in the seats of your gigantic, gas-guzzling SUV.

That's why Europeans are so thin! Eating well here costs MONEY. We don't have it. In the US you can stuff yourself catatonic at steakhouses and TexMex restaurants at every major intersection. God, I'm hungry. But I'm thin.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

And somehow *I'M* the stupid one

A kid comes in the shop and I ask for his i.d. No problem. He hands it over. His name is Yorick. Yorick, like Hamlet's jester.

So I say "Alas! I knew him." He stares at me. I stare back. Silence.

Now there are more customers looking at me, so I say unto them, "Hamlet." Uncomfortable silence now. This is getting embarrassing. I'll fix this. "You know, Shakespeare." Nothing. Not even a glimmer of recognition. You would think that in the 18-20 years this Yorick has spent on the planet, he would have ONCE run across SOMEONE who would have said "Hey, isn't that the name of some kind of character somewhere?" Does this kid think that he is the first Yorick in the world? Is he pompous enough to think that the name was invented for him? His parents were so cool that they said, "Hey, let's make up a really fucked-up name for our kid. No one else shall have it! We shall call him YORICK." (Like Moxie Crimefighter, the poor kid.)

I asked D, and he had never heard of anyone with the name, so I know it's not a typical Dutch name. It wasn't even spelled with a J, like most Y-ish names are here. Jan, Jarno, Jasper - all sound like they start with a "Y." So, at one point or another, someone must have said to him "Joh, that is a unique name. Where does it come from?" I guess he just takes another haul on his joint and goes "I dunno."

If your name were Cassandra, don't you think at the very least that you'd have heard that a long, long time ago someone in Greek mythology was called Cassandra? I think I'd know the whole story.

So I asked D wtf. He says, "Well, not everyone is as well-read as you are." So that means I'm smart, and yet the Dutch still make me feel like the stupidest person in the room. Well, I guess I am for trying to be funny with these cheese heads. Neem mij niet kwalijk.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Shattered

So, I got in a fight with my partner and slammed the front door. The second it left my hand, I thought, "Ohhhhh, shit." The top pane of glass shattered. Fuck, fuck, fuck.

He had just driven off, so he didn't see it. I called him and said "You're going to kill me, and I don't blame you, but I broke the door. Don't come home, I'll fix it."

So, I got my neighbor over here for help calling glass setters and ran all over town to cash machines and friends to borrow money (It was the end of the month, ok?) and I sure as hell didn't want to ask HIM for it.

Of course, I am due at work, and the glass people are late showing up. One of the guys, who's Greek, takes one look at the door and goes "What, did you have an argument?" I said yes. He said "You'd be surprised how often that happens. That's why we smash plates in Greece. It clears the air."

Of course, they don't have the hideous, water-patterned, 30-year-old glass that matches the BOTTOM pane, so I have them put a plain piece in. You can now see right into the house. Partner comes home and hates it, hates me. This won't do.

So, the next day, down to the home-improvement store for some privacy film. It's much more expensive than you would think, and I ask a worker for help with the measurements. In the meantime, I explain what it is for - a broken glass door pane that doesn't match the bottom pane. He says "What did you have an argument?" (Am I on fucking candid camera?) "Because you'd be surprised how often that happens."

God, I feel so much better now.

Friday, August 14, 2009

...And I'm a big fat crybaby...

So I get an email from some stom kutwijf about how my email address that I have had since 1995 infringes on her trademark rights. I won't post the email address here, since the whiny c*nt will probably get her panties all in a snit, but here's her email (I even left the typo in):

Hello,

You seem to be using my "***" name that is trademarked. It is appearing in the search engines. I never gave approval for the name "****" to be used by other people.

Please discontinue use of my trademark or "****" and update the search engine listings or I will be forced to have my trademark attorney contact you. I can also have the company, listing your forum submissions, brought into the matter.

With deepest regrets,
Stupid loser with no life.


So here was my response:

Hi - I think you'll find my email address predates your patent (1995, I believe). I am posting to a childcare forum, not in a professional arena, but if you think it is serious enough to shell out to hire an international lawyer to pursue a foreign citizen without two nickles to rub together for warmth, be my guest.

My further advice would be to loosen up and realize that nothing I have posted causes you any harm.

Verder nog, ophouden met zeiken en ga iets nuttigs doen met je kut leven.

Sincerely,

A much older **** than you...


When I'm in a bad mood, you really shouldn't send emails threatening frivilous lawsuits. Although, if she's got the minerals to follow this up, I'm looking forward to costing her a lot of money. Haha-frickity-haha

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Sorry for the disturbance, folks

Sorry I haven't been writing lately. Things have been rough at home and I have been really depressed. On the upside, the stress-and-anxiety diet has me down a size. More this week. I promise.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

How are U?

Why are people "U"-ing me? I'm cool. I'm young. I work in a coffeeshop. People like me don't get "u"-ed.

The problem is, all these adorable little teenagers and oollege kids (am I THAT much older than they are?) come into the shop and I say "Hej. Alles goed?" And they invariably answer "Ja. En met (pause)...U?" Like they doubt it a little. Like, "is she an 'U'?"

Once you've entered the twijfel zone, you really are never getting any younger.

What is really funny is that I run into regular customers all the time. They always look at me so sheepishly, too. I guess it's like seeing your grade-school teacher at the supermarket and realizing for the first time that she exists outside the classroom and buys Cap'n Crunch.

The other day at city hall, I saw THREE regular customers. That's pretty high density for 3 p.m. on a Thursday.

This is what they do:

Look at me like "Hey, it's that lady! Oh no, does she recognize me? She does! (Smile sheepishly) I hope she doesn't call me out and say "Hey, aren't you the kid who always buys three Amnesia joints and a 10-bag of White Widow?" O.K. be cool. She won't call mom. Or will she? She's an 'U' just like my mother! No, it's probably ok...

Then finally... "Hi!"

But I know they're thinking: "What are 'U' doing here?"

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Personal Space

So, if you go into an almost-empty restaurant with one occupied table, where do you sit?

If you're American, you sit at the table farthest from the occupied table. If you are Dutch, you sit RIGHT NEXT TO IT.

WTF? Stay away!

I've asked Dutch people about this phenomenon, and they all say the same thing - it's for the gezelligheid.

I don't find it gezelling to have strange (Dutch) people listening to my conversations and bumping me with their asses whenever they move their chairs. Am I alone here? They want to sit next to you, but not make small talk. It's the omgekeerd wereld. Dutch people like closeness, but don't like chatting.

No one in Holland EVER talks to strangers in a chit-chatty way with ONE notable exception: doctors' waiting rooms. You walk in and shout "Good morning, everyone!" and take a seat.

Now, in America, this is like, the ONE time we don't want to talk to strangers. We have a privacy thing when it comes to medical visits, so don't expect us to talk there.

And keep your germs to yourself and go sit on the other side of the waiting room, while you're at it...

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Whooooo are you? Who, who, who,who?

A kid comes into the coffeeshop last week with an ID that doesn't really look like him. Plus, it's all cracked and almost broken in half. He knows "his" date of birth, so I ask his Zodiac sign. Here's the rest of the conversation:

HIM: "I don't know"

ME: "You don't know your sign?"

HIM: "No. But I think October is Scorpio" (Damn, he's right, but WTF? In the meantime, I see a middle initial on the ID.)

ME: "What's your middle name?"

HIM: "I have no idea."

This is just getting laughable, but the picture looks enough like him that I give it one last ditch and say "Do you have ANYTHING else with your name on it? A credit card? A school ID? His wallet is totally empty.

At this point, I switch to English in total exasperation and say
"Are you seriously going to keep this up?"

I threw him out, much to his indignation, but I wondered, at what point would someone just give up and say, "OK, you got me. Bummer. I'm outta here." This kid hung on until the bitter end, acting like my coworker and I were the nutjobs.

Kids: Do better research. Old people were kids once too. And another thing: Old people don't like to be reminded that they're old, so stop "mevrouw"-ing me. I have my pride.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Falling Star

So, when your 4-year-old daughter climbs up on the debris on your balcony, 9 stories above the ground, and falls over the railing (MIRACULOUSLY surviving with no lasting injuries), maybe it's a good idea to clear the crap off the balcony. For appearance's sake. Especially when the whole neighborhood can see it.

I'm just saying.

'Cause, like, the neighbors might talk.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Anniversary

Sorry for the dearth of posts lately. Everyone in the house is sick and it's been tough to get any time to myself.

In other news, June 6th was my fifth year anniversary of moving to Amsterdam. Why does it feel like a hundred?

D told me that I was "sleeping like Jesus" in bed the other night. I told him it was because I've been suffering for 3 years. I am SO going to Hell.

Hopefully the kids will be well enough for daycare on Wednesday and I'll be able to get some posting done.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

It's a wash; and I'm dumb

What is it with the cleanliness problem here?

D was all jazzed about borrowing our neighbor's power washer to wash the patio stones. They're rocky square paver tiles and, you know, OUTDOORS. Power washing them just makes them look rockier. And aren't rocks only, like, compressed dirt anyways? Are we cleaning dirt itself?

As a pleasant side effect, dirty water splattered all over my nice, blooming yellow roses, our back door, exterior walls and even splashed IN the back door a little. That's ok though, because now that he "has the hang of it" he is going to do it again tomorrow. We're going to have the cleanest dirt in town. The Dutch are so fucking irritating.

But I will say this: They know how to count. Even when those cute little youngsters smash their piggybanks to buy pre-rolled joints from me with all 5-cent coins, their counting is impeccable. I have not (yet) ever gotten wrong exact change. Kind of spiffy, considering how many people inadvertently (or purposely) stiffed me when I worked at my dad's store (for more years than I'd like to remember). (Do I use a lot of parentheses, or what?)

It's so typical that WE can get things dirty by trying to clean. It's just like us. A few weeks ago, we were CONVINCED our oven was broken. Everything was undercooked all the time. We fretted and fretted about finding the money to replace it, fought about where to cut corners, etc. and then we figured it out: The 3-dollar plastic kitchen timer we use was running fast. When we set it for 15 minutes, it would go off after 10 or so. Typical. If we hadn't figured it out, we would have bought a new oven and kept using the same stupid timer. I guess the new oven would have been "broken" too.

I did it again this week. I splashed out for a video camera. Using it, I was bummed to see that one half of the display screen was blurry. I thought it was busted, but figured that the video would be sure to come out ok regardless. The video was blurry too. I took the camera back, ready to read them the riot act and go ballistic. I knew they wouldn't be able to get me a new one (it was the last in stock when I bought it) and I was feeling preemptively screwed knowing they'd try to upsell me. You know what they did? Cleaned the lens. Yeah. Problem solved. I'm a fucking moron.

Monday, May 18, 2009

A Toot Tat

My son just asked me why I have a toot tat on my arm. I can't correct him. It's too frigging cute.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Oops, he did it again

What is the matter with men?

How is it that I can walk the dogs without incident? How can *I* - a loud-ass American - spend whole days without confrontation or argument, yet men seem to challenge each other constantly, looking to add to their collection of manly stories?

Why can't they be trusted to walk the dogs without getting into shouting matches and fistfights?

I would probably have to count on both hands and both feet the number of confrontations my partner has had while walking the dogs at night.

It doesn't stop with him. My brother SWEARS thst other men go out to clubs looking for a fight and "pick" on him and his friends because they are big and tall(dumbasses, the lot). Of course, we hail from Boston, where the fightin' Irish have been proudly knocking each other's teeth out in tavern brawls since the Potato Famine. A Saturday night fight is practically a given when booze is involved.

Is this some kind of repressed hunting instinct? Do women have repressed nesting instincts? Is that why we have tea parties and sewing circles? (Yeah, not quite.) Is that why we always want to see the inside of our friends' houses? Nesting envy?

Anyways. Last night, dogs were walked, a bicycle came along, words were exchanged about the dogs walking loose (allowed, by the way), a brick was thrown, and the story ends with an unconscious man on the dijk. "I think I might have broken his jaw."

What do I say to this? "Bravo"? "Good job honey"? "I'm so proud"? "I can't wait to tell my friends at our next tea party"?

Helplessly, I insisted he should have at LEAST called the police to say "Hi. Someone threw a rock at my dogs, so I knocked him out. Come pick him up off the dijk." That erases some of the guilt for me. I'm just afraid that tonight there will be more bikes and more rocks. Aren't these people supposed to be Dutch?

What are we going to do with them?

Sunday, April 26, 2009

English Bulldog PSA

English Bulldogs can't swim. Isn't that stupid? Talk about a design flaw: a dog that can't doggie paddle.

Here are some lessons our resident top-heavy hound Ashley learned this weekend while the kids were fishing with Papa:


1) Don't drink out of the fish bucket

2) When someone empties the bucket to keep you from drinking out of it, don't get your head stuck in the bucket.

3) When you get your big, fat head stuck in the bucket, don't try to back your way out of it.

4) While backing up trying to dislodge your head, don't fall in the water.

5) When you fall into the water, keep your nose up as long as you can before sinking like a garden gnome.

6) Thank daddy. A lot.


Stupid dog.

Friday, April 24, 2009

New Course Offerings!!

NEW BIJ NTI -

How NOT to be an Inconsiderate Prick
People constantly calling you names you just don't understand? Can't keep out of fights in traffic jams? Spouses keep divorcing you even though there's nothing wrong with YOU? Then this course is for you!


Among other topics, we'll cover:


--Why the sun rises and sets (HINT: Nothing to do with you!)
--How to stop getting punched and chased with crowbars
--Using an ashtray in place of houseplants
--Remembering to acknowledge special occasions (Not just for the elderly anymore!)
--R-E-S-P-E-C-T; More than just a catchy tune!

Special subjects for the advanced:

--The words "I'm sorry" and why the heck everyone's so nuts about them
--Loneliness and depression - Why they aren't solved by condescension and ridicule
--The End of the World and why it won't come about by lack of mopping
--Overcoming the scourge of Dutch heritage

Special Companion Course taught by partner of the above teacher:



How to Become an Inconsiderate Prick

--No curriculum submitted. Bring your own comb.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Showdown at the Kruidvat

I got one of those recycle-bin-clogger mailings the other day with all the store flyers in it. Looking through Kruidvat's weekly offerings, I saw the cutest melamine plate set, with an adorable family enjoying its nostalgic little patterns during a park picnic.

Anyone in the melamine market in Holland knows that these cute, unbreakable dinner-sized plates are hard to find. When you do find them, chances are, they are about 2.29 per piece, and ugly to boot. Well, these were polka-dotted and checkered in bright sunny colors, and only .79-.99 cents. AND there was matching flatware. I thought "Geez, I'd like some of that stuff, but they'll probably sell out before I can get over to the piece-of-shit Kruidvat in my neighborhood.


But wait! V had to go to the peuterspeelzaal. I could be there first thing Tuesday morning when they opened. So after dropping him off, I wheeled the bakfiets across the neighborhood with M in tow.

There was a line in the aisle. I'm not kidding. Five or six melamine-hungry huisvrouwen were champing at the bit for MY sturdy dinnerware! All of them looked suspiciously like the poop lady and were harrying the hell out of the one flustered salesgirl trying to fill the shelves.

Tucking M under my arm like a football, I muscled through the strapping surgical-stocking set and got my man - um, plates. I also got flatware and storage bowls. I was just tickled pink-and-white polka-dots with myself.

I washed everything when I got home and put them in the cabinets. V just loved them and wanted his milk in one of the cups and his sandwich on one of the plates.

D - never missing the opportunity to rain on my parade said "I don't want these stupid plates in this cabinet. What did you get them for, anyways? We don't need them."

Well, I know SOMEONE who won't be invited to my picnic.

Friday, April 17, 2009

McBike for my McJob


I need a cheap bike with handbrakes (terugtraprem? WTF are we, 7 years old?) to get back and forth to my job distributing drugs to the masses. The bakfiets is kinda heavy to hit it back and forth all the time, and if D wants to go out with the kids, he gets stuck with the car.

Since I have a McJob - a job they'll hire anyone with a pulse for; think McDonald's, pizza delivery, customer service representative, you get the picture - I am going to call it a McBike; a shitcan bike just for back and forth to work.

I almost got blown off the bikepath by someone last night. NO ONE on the path, and this guy has to tell me that I'm in his way because I am riding in the middle, instead of to one side. He caught me off guard, since he snuck up on me, so instead of getting my bitch on, I actually said "Sorry. I'm a little out of it from work."

Here's where it gets weird....He SMILED and said "Yeah, me too," kind of like, apologetically. Like, sorry dat ik zo leilijk deed.

So like, being nice gets niceness in return?? Could that be it, Dutch people?

Naaah. I'll just get a smaller bike so I won't get in anyone's way. That way I won't have to talk to people.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

American "Dream"

So, I work in a coffeeshop now. We don't sell coffee.

I had a girl in today who kept her nose stuck inside her shirt because she can't stand the smell (which I don't get, since there is no smoking), and asked what she should get her father for his birthday, since he's a hardcore hash smoker.

I gave her a nice piece of Zwarte Nepal while her boyfriend asked me if I could giftwrap it.

What fucking planet do I live on? Please?

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Do-It-Yourself Dutch Gratitude

Something cool happened yesterday. Well, it could have been cool, but it ended up being really lame.


I went to the bike store, a place I don't normally go, in the morning, On a tree nearby, I saw a sign for a missing cat. Being a bleeding heart, I always read such things, hoping to one day be a hero. This one was a common black and white cat with a collar and a white ring around its tail.


Hmmm. That would be something you could actually spot, I thought. A cat with a white ring on its tail.


Later that day, D tore into me about not returning the glass recyclables that I "insist" on collecting instead of putting in the landfill, much to his chagrin. They were taking up too much room in the closet. OK, fine. I put them in the bakfiets along with baby M and head the opposite direction towards the supermarket.


In Holland when you recycle glass, you throw it in an underground bin, listening to each one shatter at the bottom. This was my first visit to this particular glass bin, and didn't I see the goddamn CAT foraging for food behind it.


Collar, white ringed tail, eating garbage, meowing at me, but not coming too close. This was my man.


I couldn't get close enough to read his tag, and I didn't want him to take off, so I did what any animal lover would do, and hauled ass back to the sign, a mile in the other direction.


I called the guy, breathlessly, and he said he'd go right over and hung up. Then I though, oh shit, what if there is more than one container and he goes to the wrong one? What if he comes so close to finding him, and then is at the wrong side of the parking lot?


So, I peddaled back to the supermarket, and sure enough, there was a guy wandering around by the wrong glass container. I waved him over, and he said "are you the one who called me?" I said "Yes, I'll help you look."


As soon as the guy got over to where I was, the cat materialized from between two cars, and meowed his way over to him. "Blacky!"


He scooped him up and said "Wow, he's gotten thin."

Me: "How long has he been missing?"

Him: "More than two weeks. OK, thanks." And he walks off.


I went home, just tickled pink with myself. I thought about the kids who would be so happy to see him - because, let's face it, you don't name a cat "Blacky" unless you're under age 10.


I thought, "they'll call me any minute to thank me. As soon as he gets home with the cat, his wife will call me to thank me." I thought, I definitely won't take the "reward" advertised on the sign. I was just SO HAPPY I found him. What are the chances I would be in two places I never go on ONE day, and find a cat that's been missing for weeks? Wikkid cool.


I figured as soon as they were done hugging and greeting their little lost cat, someone would say "Hey, let's call that lady and say thank you."


As depressed as I have been lately, it really lifted my spirits to think about. What a nice Easter surprise for the kids.


Here's the thing though: They never called to thank me. Not even a text message with a big "DANK JE WEL!" I don't expect a reward, but WTF? Do you know how much it would have meant to me to be thanked for going out of my way like that?


Am I an egotist? Do I seek praise where praise is not due? Should I be satisfied with a cursory "bedankt"? Would I treat the return of one of OUR beloved pets the same way? No fucking way.


See, this is what you get for having American expectations in a Dutch neighborhood. No wonder people mind their own business. Why bother helping anyone?


Are my expectations way out of line here?

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

"Ik Ben de Paashaas Peter ...Who?"

It's that time of year again, when the crocus bloom, baby chicks are born, and that elusive little devil the Easter Bunny puts eggs in a basket to deliver them to children in honor of...the Resurrection of Christ?

What the fuck is going on here? Santa makes a little sense, but where the f do we get the Easter Bunny?

Ik bedoel, our Muslim friend Achmed asked us about the Easter Bunny and Easter, and the best advice I could give him - get this - was to read the passage from David Sedaris's Me Talk Pretty One Day where he and a French teacher have it out over Easter while he and his classmates try to describe it to a Muslim student.
This is seriously the best I can do. David Sedaris and I have something in common (other than, of course, both being hilarious, bright and gifted writers...ahem). He is Greek Orthodox and I am Eastern Orthodox, which are the same religion, in different languages. (Both of them are pretty much OldSkool Catholic, only with funkier languages mumbled through more facial hair.)

The teacher tells Sedaris that he has it all wrong, and it's a BELL that flies in from Rome to bring chocolates to all the children. He can't figure out why the bell would have to come from so far away when all the bells in Paris are just sitting around doing nothing. Would a foreign bell even get work? And why the fuck is it a bell? She says something like, well, why the fuck is it a bunny, then?

I highly recommend not only this passage - which made me laugh so hard when I read it that my sides ached and I was crying - but the entire book, which is hilarious; especially when you are a depressive, deprecating sack of shit like I am.

I said something to Achmed about the eggs being symbolic of rebirth and resurrection, i.e. THE Resurrection. The Wiki on the Easter Bunny fails to mention this. This theory of, well, mine, apparently.

Anyone have a better story?

Monday, April 6, 2009

A McJob?

I might have a McJob. Not actually at McDonalds. It's much, much worse (or better). I need the money so bad and I need the tax benefits for daycare, so I am going to take it if I get it. I have a proefdag today. WTF is that?

(Hopefully I can do ok despite the fact that I am having a reaction to my medication and I can barely stand up from dizziness. I hate my medicine. I hate it almost as much as the illness. Mental illness. I am mentally ill. I am mental. With this medication reaction, I actually feel crazy - motherfucking crazy, insane and unstable - for the first time in years. My poor kids. They don't know what they're going to get any second.)

Even if I make 50 cents an hour, the tax breaks make it well worth it. God, I hope I don't trip and fall, puke, or lose my hearing, memory or vision. All the charming, CHARMING effects of the "cure." Instead of being a mental deficient, I can be a physical one. YAY DRUGS!!!

I'll let you know.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Partner Swap

Just kidding. I got you though, didn't I?

Book swap, actually. I am organizing an English language book swap because I am sick to shit of having to write my own material in order to have something to read. Libraries don't have enough, and bookstores make you pay 15 euros for lousy chick-lit fluff novels, nevermind a decent page-turner. I could easily blow a week's grocery money on books that would only take me a day or two to finish. (Similar to a week's worth of groceries. God I have a fat ass.)

I've already posted to a couple expat forums, but I thought I'd clue in my VAST readership (both of you). So, anyone in The Netherlands who is down with it can shoot me an email at amsterdamyankee@gmail.com and I'll count you in.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Neighbor Paradox

You know how Dutch people are standoffish and not chatty and generally not known for their friendliness? Well, there is one major exception: The Neighbor.

In the affluent Boston suburb I grew up in, we didn't speak to our neighbors. For 35 years now. We can talk to strangers for hours, but we ignore the shit out of our neighbors. Here, it's the complete opposite.

I was reading an online forum where an American was looking for a petsitter. The overwhelming response was "Don't you have neighbors?"
No matter how unappealing or incompatable they are, your neighbors are fucking THERE and ready to serve. It's an expectation. You don't have to worry about your pets, plants or mail while you are away. If you need a ride someplace, or someone to let the cable guy in, feel free to call on your neighbors. They'll lend you a car or bike, pass out candy to your kids and help you clean the gutters.

Inexplicably, Dutch people are proud of being good neighbors. Be a bad neighbor and you risk being labelled the dreaded "asociaal." Feel free to ignore strangers, though. It's part of the maddening and puzzling duality of the Dutch.

Every neighbor we've had has been helpful to the point of our being tearfully grateful. Most recently, our newest neighbor served as an emergency babysitter for baby M at 8 a.m. and lent me her (SWEET) car to take V to the doctor when he had pneumonia. No problem. She's our neighbor.

It must be in the Dutch constitution: 1) Ignore that the monarchy is totally useless and robs you blind, and 2) Be a good neighbor.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Shopping under the influence

Yesterday I was so sick and feverish and I went to C-1000 and Lidl anyways. I realized in the drink aisle at C-1000 that I was talking to my shopping cart. The stupid thing didn't understand a word I said.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

I know what I hate

I finally have pinpointed what it is that I hate about the Dutch landscape.

That it's flat and flavorless, most people know, but there's more. There are no big trees, which I find depressing, but my Dutch friend told me that on a recent trip to Ireland, all the big trees made her fell "claustrophobic." WTF is the matter with this picture?

Having no big trees makes me feel like there is such a lack of privacy. You can see a cow taking a crap in a field three miles away. You can see EVERY house in the neighborhood. You can probably see every villager every second of the day.

Yet, there has always been something more about the landscape that has bothered me, I've just never been able to put my finger on it until now. Now, I've finally grasped it.

Here it is: There is not one inch (centimeter) of this country that is not planned, planted, pruned and predictable. The place is so small, that every citizen has been over every speck of it. There is no wild, untamed anything ANYWHERE. THAT is what bothers me.

At home, even in my yard, I'd discover new things - "oh look, a new sapling... Hey! A rabbit!...What the hell kind of plant is this? A weed?" There are huge expanses of America that hold tons of surprises and oddities. Giant mountain ranges, deserts, hills and lakes that make you feel far from the rest of the world, etcetera, etcetera. Here is so WYSISYG, it makes me feel like I am trapped.

Phew. At least I know what it is now.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Viva la revolucion!

So my 3-year-old son has this weird exclamation he uses when he does something dramatic, like a somersault, or smashes a racecar. He yells; "MEXICO!!!"

I have no idea where he got it, or heard it, or whatever.

This has been going on for a couple of months. I never really thought much about it until the other day when he was playing and suddenly yelled "TEXAS!!"

WTF is going on here? Has he secretly been watching the history channel? Is he a reincarnated soldier from the Alamo?

We live in Holland, for Chrissakes. It's not like everyone is running around speaking Spanish or wearing ten-gallon hats and eating giant steaks. Mmmmm. Steak.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Holland Sucks

I hate the weather. I hate my medication. I am so depressed. I'm sick of stroopwafels and bicycles. I love my kids, but I think they're trying to kill me. My partner is a pain in my ass. I hate mopping the floor. I hate that my dogs keep vomiting and pissing everywhere.

I hate my clogs. I hate that I am too tired to wear high heels. I hate remembering how beautiful I once was. And respected. And I made money. I hate that I sold my beautiful 4-bedroom house that was "too small" when I was single. I wish I could go live there by the water - the REAL water - and have a good life. And a car.

I am sick of laundry. Why is there always so much of it? It is the cockroach of housework.

I hate that people here don't chitchat. I want meaningless conversation with people I don't care about, God fucking damnit. I want 32-oz. to-go coffee that I can spill on my lap while I drive an automatic transmission car.

I'm tired. I'm tired of everything being my fault all the time. I am tired of the energy it takes to live away from my family and the people who once admired me. I fucking hate tulips.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Will Edit for Food

Why don't people want to interview me? Why do they keep sending me form letters? Do they even read my resume and see how perfect I am for them? Why will no one hire me?

I am such a nice person. I am such a good editor. I'm, like, wikkid smaht.

Doesn't anyone need me? I know they do. I have seen these horrific Dutch publications. I have spotted mistakes on billboards. I have picked through D's contracts and company documents with a red pen, sweating, thinking of the poor people who have to sign these horribly inaccurate, misspelled nightmares of legally binding contracts.

HIRE ME. Fucking hire me! HELP ME HELP YOU. You Dutch companies need me so much it's not even funny.

We need groceries. We need a new mattress. We need curtains. Our insurance company is gunning for us.

Come on, you Dutch bastards. Give in and admit you need me.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

It makes Senseo.


So I am having a great inward chuckle at the Dutch today. A friend went to a bar last night and when I asked how it was, he said "It was great. Especially because we could smoke inside."


"Whaaaat?" I thought, since there is a smoking ban, right? Yes, but as Andre told me, "they have a piggy bank on the bar that all smokers have to put a euro in." What for? "To save up for the fine."


That is so Dutch, I can't even believe it. Americans would raise the drink prices, or just suck it up and pay the fine, or most likely, not let anyone smoke at all and piss and moan about how they will go out of business. Dutch people have socialism so ingrained in their culture that they figure hey, we're all in it together. Pitch in for the fine. We're all at fault, we'll all pay for it.


And they're SO FUCKING PRAGMATIC. Our neighbor - and coincidentally, Dre's belle du jour last night - was recently part of a marketing focus group. At the end of the group, they could bring in their old Senseo coffee makers and receive a brand new one for free.


Well, this neighbor had a Senseo that was fairly newish, so she thought it over, called her brother, and made a deal. She'd bring him HER current Senseo in exchange for his OLD one, which she would trade in for the new one for herself. That way, everyone was happy. Like Austin Power's dad would say, "only a bloody Dutchman."


Honestly, that level of thought just blows me away. I'll bet her brother brags to everyone who drinks coffee at his house about his "new" coffeemaker.


I can think of a thousand examples of this kind of judicious thinking on the part of the Dutch. I wonder if they're ancestrally related to the Scottish?

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Mama is simple

I was telling my brother-in-law that he should see the pictures of when we moved house here in Amsterdam, because it is so different from moving in America. I said something like "We use a big pulley and lower everything out the window."

Then my three-year-old pipes up, "A pulley is a 'simple machine' used to lift heavy things with 'leverage'."

I made a noise like "uuuughhhaaaaa."

Stop watching TV, kid, it's rotting your brain...

Friday, February 13, 2009

Cold and lonely

So, my trip isn't going quite as planned. I was kind of hoping everyone would be fighting over who gets to babysit my boys and I'd be spending every afternoon being massaged and exfoliated at my mom's day spa. Instead, everyone is sick with a ear-throat thing (me included) and whenever they aren't sleeping, my family isn't around. It's just like being at home alone, only the TV's in English.

Not even ONE person has challenged me to eat my weight in Dunkin' Donuts baked goods. (But I am self-motivated, so no one will stop me reaching my goal.)

Everyone is broke, so no frivolous spending orgies (how many hits do you think I'll get on "Amsterdam orgy" now?) and tons of stores have gone out. The malls look like ghost towns. I'd heard about the American economy being in the toilet, but it's downright scary to be in a prosperous city like Boston and have the problems be so apparent.

On the upside, the boys were able to visit the local fire station today. We brought donuts to the firemen and asked for a tour. They were very nice and even though they had been fire-fighting all night and all the gear was out and wet, gave us a nice tour. My camera batteries ran out halfway through, naturally.

We're still battling jetlag and we're only here one more week. I hope things pick up. I'll try to post at least one more time before I leave.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Thanksgiving Day is coming...

I feel like Oliver Twist anticipating my upcoming trip "home" to Boston. All I can think about is what and where I am going to eat. Zaftig's, Jae's, Il Panino, Di Giacomo's, shit, even Chili's. (I've even persuaded my aunt to cook me a real Thanksgiving dinner, since I haven't had one in years.)

I have a taste for, as my snotty friend calls it "blue-collar food" like nachos and steak tips. It's kind of guilty pleasure. I love places like Chili's and Ground Round, but like everyone else, I pretend I don't. "Oh, let's just go to Ruby Tuesday. It's RIGHT here..."

I can't wait to have what I consider real Chinese food - isn't it weird how EVERY country has it's own interpretation of Chinese food? And all the restaurants are actually run by Chinese people? I have never found a proper eggroll or crab rangoon outside the US. Here it's all thick noodles, sambal and goopy sauces. In Italy, Chinese food is totally different too, not to mention that Italian food doesn't even resemble my American/Italian all-time favorite - Chicken Parmigiana. Do the Parmigiani know how we have bastardized their name in America?

It's going to take all my self-restraint not to eat Dunkin' Donuts coffeecake muffins until I vomit, then eat some more. Or go to McDonald's without spending a week's grocery money on a happy meal. Ahh. America, where you can get fat for $1.99. Bring it!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Of Dikes and Waffles

Stroopwafels are really the only significant Dutch contribution to world cuisine that I'm aware of. Pea soup, mmm. Knobby sausages mashed into potatoes with leeks, yummy. Frikandels - chopped every-part-of-animals and deep fried then shaped like what I imagine an 80-year-old man's naughty bits look like (add a couple croquettes, you get the idea), zalig!

So I am going to the US next week and I am taking a suitcase full of stroopwafels. It's a SMALL suitcase, but still, it's full of friggin' cookies (if you can call a stroopwafel a "cookie"). We have a friend who works in a waffle factory, so he totally hooked us up. It's really the only thing my family wants from Holland.

On another note, I just saw a girl get pushed off the dike by her friends. I thought what a funny expression that would make for a lesbian reverting to dating men:

"Sally is married now? I thought she was a lesbian."
"Yeah, but then she met her husband and he pushed her off the dyke."

Then there are probably men who can push a woman onto the dike too, but that's another story.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Dutch "Spring"

It's freezing but clear and dry in Holland today, which makes it "perfect weather" for a bike ride. Dutch people are so frigging mental. You can NOT convince me that these hardy bastards don't have Viking blood.

D saddled up the kids and dogs and headed to the park in the bakfiets, with F and her friend on rollerblades and a bicycle, respectively. It was our English Bulldog's first time in the bakfiets and she was nervous, apparently she jumped out once they got to the park and chose running alongside instead, followed shortly thereafter by Jip, our Maltese.


I haven't ridden my bakfiets since we moved here in October because M hates it so much, but he's ALMOST big enough now. I miss it like crazy!!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Favorite Colors

I asked V what his favorite color is. Most three-year-olds say stuff like "Green!" or "Blue!"

In case I need any more proof that he is a little different, he said "Orange. No wait. Dark orange."

At least it's the color of Holland.

USA! USA!

Fina-fucking-ly, I am going to the US to visit my family. This will be the first time they meet baby M, and everyone is excited.

I can't wait to load my big, fat ass into a big, fat car and go to big, fat stores. Isn't that what America is all about?

I told my mom that I am gaining weight living in suburbs, since I am not riding my bakfiets as much. (That will change soon - M can't sit in a baby seat quite yet, and he HATES the infant seat) She said "Oh, well, we can eat vegetables while you're here." I was like "No way! Who the hell goes to America NOT to eat?" (At least in America, I have serious competition. I might not even qualify as fat there.)

M will fit in the bike seat by the time we get back, and I can use him as resistance while biking. I should just load the bakfiets with bricks. It's been a long winter...

Saturday, January 17, 2009

I knew him. Horatio.

I am depressed and philosophical tonight, and thinking of one of my favorite Latin authors, Horace. It gives me some comfort to think that he sat looking at the same stars that I was looking at tonight, but I wonder if he found any more wisdom in them than I did. It's nice to think they haven't changed much since he wrote about his philosophies. All I know is that it's easier to be 'integer vitae' than 'scelerisque purus.'

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

WTF is wrong here?

I've had two EXCELLENT interviews for jobs here and both have come up empty. I am starting to get discouraged.

And why the f is my blogger post thingy suddenly starting to spellcheck in Dutch?

I am waiting to hear about a temporary assignment job that would be really good, since I need the ducats.

I am tired of getting excited about every opportunity, having everything go great, and then being told I am either overqualified or GET THIS - "not ready" for full time work. The blatant mother discrimination is rampant here. How do they get away with it?

The last interviewer told me that she thought I should think about whether I am "really ready" for full time work away from my children. I'm fucking here, aren't I, bitch? Being away from my kids is immaterial. Color me f-ing pissed.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Someone get a gurney...

I actually had a dream last night that someone made me eat sub-par cheese and forced me to say that it was good. I was choking it down thinking "Oh God, this cheese has such a bad aftertaste."

I've officially jumped off the deep end (of the dike). My nightmares now involve cheese. Deliver me from Holland.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Marijuana Users' Manual

So, here they actually make users' instructions for pot. Here is a nice list of dos and don'ts from a local coffeeshop's packaging:

(Translated from Dutch and shortened a little - don't Dutch people know this shit already?)

1) Use cannabis for pleasure. A joint doesn't solve problems.

2) If you smoke every day, try not to smoke a couple days a week.

3) Cannabis affects concentration, therefore, don't use it at school, work or in traffic.

4) Some kinds of cannabis are stronger than others and have a higher level of THC. An experienced smoker knows precisely when he has had enough and can then stop. If you are smoking for the first time, you don't know how much you can handle. Inform yourself therefore, over what kind you should buy.

5) If you don't have a lot of experience with marijuana, it's a good idea to avoid drinking alcohol at the same time.

6) If you take medication and want to smoke, consult your doctor first. Do not use while pregnant.

7) Don't buy cannabis on the street. Find a bonafide coffeeshop.

8) When smoking cannabis, substances like tar and carbon monoxide are released that can be hazardous to your health.

9) When eating spacecake it is difficult to determine how much cannabis you are taking in. Before you know it, it can be too much. Start with a small piece. It can take from 45 to 90 minutes to take effect. Wait for the effect and don't eat another piece or you will take in too much.

10) Sometimes cannabis can have a bad effect. You can feel sick or nervous. Find a quiet place and eat or drink something sweet. Don't panic. After an hour, the worst is over.

11) Consider that if you mix cannabis with tobacco that you smoke tobacco too. Nicotine is addictive.

12) Don't take cannabis with you when you leave the country.

There you have it folks: the twelve step program to Amsterdam.