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!!


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 and I'll count you in.