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.