Thursday, June 24, 2010

May 12th: When things started getting abstract...

I experienced a wide range of emotions during my stay in Amsterdam. On this day they were loneliness and despair.

I woke up knowing this. That it was going to be a hard day. Matthias and I had been trying to plan a camping trip and fit it in between friend visits, bad weather, and the exam/essays he had to accomplish. At this point, I had three full days left with bonus Saturday morning before my flight. We both hoped we'd be able to take off this evening and spend a couple nights up on the island I'd been looking forward to seeing. But, I slept too long and when I finally got up, I already felt upset for no good reason. Matthias had the curtains closed in his jammies at the computer typing away. I knew today wouldn't be the day. He was valiantly pounding out his essay though, so I pretended we were still going and went for a walk through the neighborhood to the south.

It was somewhat comforting to peek in the open window of all of the Dutch apartments with floor to ceiling bookcases, comfy rugs and families eating lunch or playing chess together. I wandered, took some photos, and wandered back. Matthias was still working and though he remained optimistic I went ahead and said it: "we're not going camping today." I felt sad that he had so much work to do over his break. I felt angry with myself for not realizing this beforehand and planning the logistics of my alone time to maximize adventure potential. I felt frustrated with both of us for not getting our act together sooner. It's difficult to pinpoint how I end up working myself into this kind of aggravated frenzy of self-criticism, but today was the day for implosion.

If we weren't leaving today, we were DEFINITELY going tomorrow. So Matthias took a break from schoolwork and we sat down at the computer together. I got out my notebook and we wrote down train times and prices, ferry times and prices, made camping reservations and borrowed a tent. This might have saved us...

Thursday, June 17, 2010

May 11th: I'm just fuckin' with you Daddy!

In case you were just tuning in, this a witty and touching recount of my most recent visit to Amsterdam. Day by day. Welcome.

I liked this day quite a bit too, it was a Tuesday. Important highlights as shown:

#1: Five doughnuts for 1 Euro 50 cents. The most basic doughnut you could possibly buy. Not too sweet, white frosting. I am going to try my best not to eat these every day come September.

#2: Kaas

#3: Matthias wanted this portable grill set. Badly. And it was only 10 Euros, so I bought it. Unfortunately it started raining as soon as we arrived home and I discovered today that he lost it after the first use. It was possibly worth it just for this photo.

#4: (Not pictured) We saw Kick Ass. Matthias had watched many previews and read reviews, I wanted to be surprised. I wasn't sure where it was going for the first 15 or 20 minutes, but after the first bruisy bloodbath where Kick Ass stands up to the car theives, I realized we were in for a hilarious treat. Matthias has excellent taste in movies.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

May 10th: Noordlicht

I loved this day. After a weekend full of friends, fiascos and fun it was back to just me and Matthias. Our first goal was to hit the flea market we'd missed the previous week due to foul weather. We were too cheap/lazy to rent a bike, so Matthias rode me halfway across Amsterdam on the handlebars of his bike. And we proceeded to travel this way for the rest of Monday.

At the Noordermarkt flea market, we scored a handful of amazing vintage postcards (mostly black and white pictures of Dutch children holding flowers with a cursive birthday greeting below), new boots for me and a vest for him. On a mission for food we cruised through the center, but ended up at a well-curated vintage shop instead. I chatted with the lady for quite a while because she had a whole shelf of deadstock fabric from the fifties! I proceeded to purchase fifty euros of meterage from her, which Matthias also carried for the rest of the day (husband material).

We ate lunch at the library (they have an awesome pasta and pizza restaurant inside) and continued across the water to Noord. I love Noord. It was cold, sparsely peopled and industrial. Apparently it's less traveled because you have to ferry across from central station to get there so most people don't bother. There were student dorms made from shipping containers, a large warehouse space with a skate park and offices for theater groups and other creative outfits, and a cozy, colorful cafe that looked like an empty airplane hanger from outside. As soon as we entered, good smells and warmth wafted out. It was packed! People were drinking hot cocoa with their dates, chatting with their colleagues and lounging with friends. Matthias read aloud the foreward to sci-fi adventure thriller we had also picked up at the flea market. On the way back home, Matthias even managed to snag a message in a bottle that I'd sighted earlier while boarding the ferry. Yep. Lying on his stomach on the concrete ferry landing, reaching with his right hand while I held the bike lock around his chest. We were so excited to get home and open it...

Musical Mittwoch #1

Is it cheating to use the German word for Wednesday for alliteration/convenience sake? No. No it's not is the correct answer.

Something about this video does it for me. It's the original version of Robyn's "Handle Me" from 2005 before they shot the slick, many-outfits-in-a-box-show (which I also like quite a bit). But the lofi simplicity, the darkness, those dudes. This really is the only one I could find, and I kind of love how the resolution sucks. Because Robyn doesn't.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

May 9th: Sunday stroll with the gang

Sunday was a good day. We all slept in, Konrad made us vegan pancakes, and then we went for a walk. The red light district had yet to be experienced by Einar, and Sunday during daylight seemed the most humorous method. Konrad also requested that we hang out at Central Station for a bit to hear some street performers. I was slightly skeptical at first, but ended up enjoying this time quite a bit. It was nice music, and hanging out at central stations watching everyone come and go somehow brings me joy. I used to go to Berlin's when I lived there and was feeling lonely.

bottom photo by Matthias

Thursday, June 10, 2010

I haven't forgotten...

May 8th: See you at de Bosbaan

Today was a Saturday, and it was all about the Bosbaan. Matthias had his very first crew race, and it was sort of a practice round, like pre-season. But it was a race nonetheless. He had to get up at like, 7 am, so Konrad and I did too in a show of solidarity. (Einar was staying with his Swedish friend because...well, we made his bed for him and everything but, we were asleep before he called to be let in. Sorry Nar.) Anyway, Matthias used to make me breakfast all the time when I had to get up early for dance performances in Berlin and it was awesome. So I tried to return the favor. I knew I should have hopped on a bike to scurry for breadrolls but there didn't seem to be enough time. So while he was packing his bags I made him the only breakfast we had: half a bowl of mueslix, three celery sticks with peanut butter, coffee and OJ. It was pretty miserable, but he figured there would be food there, I did too.

Konrad and I had agreed to join him at the race for the second round in the early afternoon, since he would be biking there and we would have slowed him down for the morning time. Due to the breakfast shortage, I sent Konrad forth into the world with a 20 Euro bill with the instruction "breakfast." He was a great success in the breadroll department, but somehow ended up with Mediterranean flavored low fat cheese slices called "Slankie" instead of actual cheese. Whatev. He was discombobulated. This IS the Netherlands after all, and as Dutch is decipherable for those of us who speak English and German, it's not always easy or straightforward. We realized though, that we would really have to choke that Slankie down if we were to arrive in time for Matthias' race (only goal of the day). Konrad had to ride me on the handlebars of the bike at top speed to the bus station (shrieking with laughter), but we made it.

Konrad politely confirmed with the bus driver that he was going our direction, and we requested day tickets. "Oh, hm, I'm all out of those," he told us "you'll just have to find a seat." He winked as he pointed backward with his thumb. We both looked at each other, wide-eyed in disbelief. Dutch bus tickets are EX-PEN-SIVE! And this magical gem of a man was offering us a free ride. High five. He instructed us to change buses about half an hour into the trip, we thanked him as he waved at the driver of our next ride. Again, Konrad politely confirmed that he was going our way and we asked him for day tickets. "Hm, how did you ride the other bus if you don't have a ticket?" He asked. "Oh, uh, he just told us to have a seat?" Konrad sheepishly announced. "Hm," thought the other bus driver. "Then I say that too." He pointed backward with his thumb and smiled. We couldn't believe our luck. Two free rides AND we were going to make it there in the nick of time.

As Konrad and I arrived joyously to discover the race had been postponed, so we had plenty of time, we found Matthias in a deteriorating state. "Did you guys bring food?" He asked. "Oh, uh, no. Were we supposed to?" He had sent us a text, but I'd already fried my power converter and phone was out of commission for the rest of the trip. Matthias was hungry, and was only halfway done with his racing. Trouble a'brewin'.

I've only experienced it once before in our entire time together, but when Matthias gets REALLY hungry, things go downhill fast. He turns into a shadow of a man, only goal: survival. Nothing will stop him. And it puts him in a TERRIBLE mood, which permeates all situations surrounding him. Again, I've only experienced this emergency once before, but it was BAAAAD. I had a premonition Konrad and I were in for emergency number 2, and I was scared. But I was glad I was not alone. We had a pack of Stroopwaffel in my purse (Dutch cookie treat, two crispy thin waffles with caramel between) and we offered him some. I knew it would only buy us about a half an hour though.

The race happened, Konrad and I biked alongside the river and yelled encouragement in German as Bootje 2 frantically paddled a very close race to an unfortunate last place finish. Matthias and team cleaned up their stuff and we headed out. The slippery slope began. Matthias was frowning, moving quickly, withdrawn. We found a french fry stand near a grocery store, this would buy us another half an hour or so. "I think I'm going barf if I eat these," were the only words out of his mouth. He ate them anyway. We hit the grocery store, purchased everything we needed for veggie burger dinner. A free sample of non-alcoholic beer bought us another ten minutes. His shoulders were slumping. We boarded the train back with his bike and grocery bags. Konrad and I took his bag. He leaned his bike up against the center pole, walked to the next compartment as the train jolted forward and the bike toppled, Konrad and I juggling grocery bags trying to right it. Matthias leaned his back against the wall and slid downward, collapsing onto the floor of the train. Konrad and I made eye contact through the grocery burden and sighed. The situation was looking grim. So at the train change, we continued on and he grabbed his bike with a gruff "see you back there." And bolted.

We found Matthias in his bed with earphones on as we arrived at the flat. So we unpacked the groceries and left him alone. I went to the common room to read, Konrad played Zombie killer on the computer. Apparently, Matthias eventually rose and opened a can of beans. He had his back to the door and his bare hand in the can when Einar walked in cheerfully oblivious to the workings of the day. "Hey Matthias! How's it goin'?" Matthias froze, hand full of beans. "I....just...need a minute." He said without turning. Einar immediately relocated to the common room where I got him up to speed and we remained until Matthias announced that burgers were ready. Things turned around from there :)

P.S. This last photo kind of breaks my heart every time I see it. It's at the french fry place, and pretty much sums this whole story up. Matthias' furrowed brow, the distant gaze, the pouting lip, Konrad waiting in the background, trying to put on a happy face. If the kids ever look like this, I will probably turn into a complete pussy and get them whatever they want.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

May 7th: Einar is coming today, we have to meet him at the train station!

Einar is my former roommate from Cal Poly. A little over four years ago, Jeannette, my other former roommate and I were interviewing for a vacancy and wanted to keep the place 100 percent lady for walking around naked and other various purposes. But out of the three candidates, softspoken blazer and t-shirt wearing guitar playing computer programming Swedish exchange student Einar was the obvious choice. So we made an exception, but were still worried we would no longer be able to chill out comfortably/non-awkwardly in our underwear. The very next day he had his room sparkling clean and was at the computer in his boxers. We knew immediately we had a winner.

Speeding up to the present, I knew Einar was flying in from Madrid on this day. We all knew it. We talked about what he would be wearing and what type of luggage he would have. Konrad thought maybe he had checked something, but I pointed out he would only be in Amsterdam for three nights. I thought just a slick rolling carry-on. Matthias thought stylish manpurse. We waited with bated breath as he stepped off the train...Matthias was right.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Musical Monday #3: First Aid Kit

I...can'! They have their claws in me, there's something about them. Their voices really are that excellently brutal; I saw them Friday night at Mississippi Studios. Get behind it.

May 6th: Matthias starts his essay, Konrad arrives from Germany without undies

and I peacefully read Just Kids by Patti Smith until it was time for the three of us to bike to Matthias' boat presentations. Nothing more to note other than that beatboxing, costumes, dancing on tables, terrible techno and lots of tiny beers were involved.

photo by Matthias

Sunday, June 6, 2010

May 5th: Put on your best dress and roll in the dirt

This day began with me getting ready early, and nearly strangling Matthias for not getting ready as early. But after my distress was made known, things started looking up.

We borrowed a bike from a dorm-mate of Matthias' and headed out for a city tour. The nine streets are a collection of independent boutiques just southwest of central Amsterdam and as per my request we toured them thoroughly. Matthias even got more hardcore about the vintage shop than I did. After perusing the goodies and sifting through the velvet bow tie box, I was ready to go and scanned for the man. He, however, had usurped the full length mirror and was deep into the vest section with his potentially dapper pieces and hangers scattered about. After convincing him NOT to buy a jewel-toned nineties print abomination, we hit up a houseboat museum (and sat on the bench atop it until they kicked us off of the canal), checked out the museum square for possible live entertainment (it was freedom from the nazis day) and biked back to the pad, again with a severe case of hunger.

At the corner stoplight before Matthias' flat, we discussed the idea of pizza, although both of us were at a loss for where to get this cheaply and deliciously. Staring deep into each other's eyes to determine level of pizza want, we overheard someone say the magic word as they biked on by. Matthias turned his bike in pursuit and began pedaling, I saw the commitment of his move and knew immediately what to do; follow in silence. He was onto something. Several awkward stops and moments of trying to look inconspicuous later, we arrived at the world's smallest most delicious smelling eat-in pizza restaurant just ahead of the six students we'd been trailing. PERFECT.

The beverage menu listed "Beer: 1,50" so we ordered. "Two 'Beers'" please. And the woman knelt down beside our table and extracted two Heinekens from the fridge adjacent, popping the tops. Nice. The pizza also turned out to be cheap and ultra delicious. Matthias was so excited that he invented a new term. "What are you doing?" I asked as he yanked the collar of his t-shirt down nearly to the middle of his chest, scratching. "What? Oh, I am just scratching my breast crotch." He stated and continued looking around, amazed with his find as I lost all muscle tone in raucous laughter.

photo by Matthias

Saturday, June 5, 2010

May 4th: For some reason a Dutch child asked us for our autograph today...

Field trip!

We rolled out west to Zandvoort aan Zee to check out the beach, but had to be back by 4pm so Matthias could make crew practice. On the way though, we made a pit stop in Haarlem. I wanted to see the Franz Hals Museum full of Dutch master paintings (was definitely worth it). Haarlem is pretty small, and this is a big attraction so...I thought we'd probably see signs leading us straight to the destination. True. But the signs didn't lead us straight to the front door. And Matthias had a sudden espresso craving that had to be dealt with immediately.

We walked into a little cafe, which turned out to be quite long and everyone stared at us as we strutted down the aisle to the coffee counter. Sure, we can just order one espresso at the bar and sit outside. (Good that this was the plan, because outside were the only empty seats in the house!) So we did, strutted back down the aisle, everyone stared at us again. We both found this a bit strange, Matthias thought maybe they were trying to figure out the difference between my boots and socks, I postulated it was his man-model swagger. Anyway, we landed, confused and amused, at a little table out front with one tiny cup. Shortly after seating ourselves, a young man of oh, five or six with red hair and freckles came out of the door and approached us. He seemed shy, looking at his shoes and fidgeting. He asked us something slowly in Dutch. Neither of us understood and simply sat in silence, looking intently at the little person who had now raised his eyes to gauge our response. I repeated what seemed like the key word to him, he confirmed. Silence, fidgeting. "English?" we asked, but he just turned red and went back inside. Matthias repeated the keyword to himself again and squinted into the distance. "Huh. I think...that kid just asked us for an...autograph? Hahahaha, oh man, and we totally shot him down."

Friday, June 4, 2010

May 3rd: It was a Monday and it was raining

So we skipped the once weekly flea market we'd planned on visiting and ate Patatjes instead. I'll be honest, I had french fries with mayonnaise almost EVERY SINGLE DAY during my trip. One, I like them. Two, I feel comfortable ordering them in Dutch. Three, they're everywhere. Four, they're filling. Five, they're cheap. Is that enough for you?

Anyway, we toured Matthias' university and concluded with a severe case of hunger. As we approached this little imbiss, Matthias paused. "This definitely looks like a place you do NOT want to eat Patatjes at. We're doing it." So we parked the Tandem and strode inside. Matthias ordered a large. I ordered a medium. They were both over crispy and the only discernible difference was that my mayo came on the side and his came...all over the top. Hahahaha.

Also of note, I drank my first Vla of the trip on this day. For those of you who know what I mean.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

{Sasquatch Interlude}

Apologies for my abrupt curtailment of the Netherlands: Day by Day, but I absolutely must acknowledge the Sassy times had over Memorial Day Weekend. Can you say "SASQUATCH!"? Otherwise known as the P-N-Dub's most gloriously scenic wind-powered carbon-neutral music festival at the Gorge. There are many an amusing anecdote I might share, but I will simply start by summing up the experience in nine photos from which you may draw your own conclusions.

Also, my top five performances in descending order:
#1 the XX
#2 Dirty Projectors
#3 Vampire Weekend
#4 Tune-Yards
#5 Kid Cudi

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