Monday, April 27, 2009

Friday, April 24, 2009

John does Manhattan:

I have somehow managed to find a somewhat inexpensive direct (both there and back) flight from AMS to JFK. Hello, Manhattan! I will be leaving the land of tiny May 3rd–and returning May 11th. Ten whole days in New York City. This really shouldn't be this exciting. It's just that that city, right now, in my mind, feels so glamorous. And so many of my friends live there, too. It will be strange to see a reflection of lives I could be having in the USA right now, had I not moved away. I've never understood Europeans' fascination with New York City. But then again, many of them take their own continent's ever so stunning capitals for granted. I know Dutchies and other continental who've never even been to Scandinavia. Why not? It's stunning. But then again, it was, is, and perhaps always will be, a fascinating place. I understand the European fascination with it, just as Americans nostalgicize Europe. Tiny streets, cobblestones, gas lit lampposts–check. These are environments that Americans sometimes go to great lengths to recreate. It's fascinating, New York City, that is. Completely different than anything Europe has to offer. I guess the grass is always greener. I've been researching the city, and came across this explanation of it: 'The city is a giant social experiment in cross-cultural harmony'. It's so fun to think of it that way. I grew up with people of every cultural background around me. I don't think I've ever realized that was such a strong aspect of the USA, until now. Its diversity, that is. Strange how those revelations work out sometimes–eh? I can't wait to sit in plazas for hours, just watching people. I almost have a blank schedule; I have nothing planned. And during that time, I'll be looking at my own country, in a different, more objective perspective.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Manhattan, See You Soon:

So, I must go to Manhattan for a week. In less than two weeks. Who knew that living living in Europe would require so much travel. I'm so excited. And it will be so strange to be back in the USA. Using the dollar, and its family of accompanying coins. Seeing yellow taxis, SUV's, and other jumbo sized American cars. An abundance of cheeseburger restaurants, french fries and diet Mountain Dew. How I long for a never ending bucket of fountain originating Mountain Dew. Tastie-d-lite 'ice cream', because–did you know–American's eat more ice cream than any other nation? 48 pints a year in fact. That's 22 liters. Central Park.  Reading a book in the sun on the Chelsea Piers. Mean rude New Yorkers who will do nothing (and stop), for no one. There will be many coffees in the Village. Countless subway rides. A pit stop or two at Duane Reade–to stock up on my favorite healthcare supplies and toothpaste (which is not available here in the land of tiny). Countless adventures await. I'm going to also purchase some Brooklyn Lager from the Brooklyn Brewery. All in addition to the random and unexpected that NYC always serves up; such as the night I met Amanda Lepore at Avalon. I lived in NYC during Spring 2007, and it was quite the adventure. But in no way can one season in Manhattan allow anyone to experience the myriad of possibilities waiting to be experienced in the city. If anyone knows of any adorably cute cafés, brunch hot-spots, the best undiscovered (or discovered) vintage shop, the most comfortable patch of grass in one of the many city parks, or the best ice cream the city has to offer (because I can't say the China Town Ice Cream Factory won me over just yet), please let me know. Did I mention that a lot of Americans live there, who speak English fast and fluently? It will be so strange to be instantly able to speak to everyone around me again. I'll also stop by my old apartment at East 13th Street, for fun. My (former) latex fetish shop (because doesn't everyone have one of those in their building), was located on the ground floor of my old building: The Baroness. Though I can't say I ever went in, the window displays were always worth a second glance. The city really does have something for everyone. And I like that.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Whelming-ness of English:

If you have read this book–then the the title of this post, 'the whelming-ness of english', might give you a little chuckle. If not, no worries–Bill Bryson probably did not mean for it to be as funny as I happened to find it. But that's just my quirky sense of humor. If you have not read this book, you should. You will leaning over, holding your side, in laughter. Never has a language book amused so much, and so well, from first page to last. On that note, one of my favorite things to do online is discover new words. When I stumble across a word I don't know, somewhere online, I immediately throw it in the Here's four fun new words I discovered today:

inclined to silence; reserved in speech; reluctant to join in conversation.

ascribing human form or attributes to a being or thing not human, esp. to a deity.

diverging; differing; deviating.

extraordinary in size, amount, extent, degree, force, etc.: a prodigious research grant.

The English language is so flowery. And I love that. Now, it's time to adopt a love of the Dutch language. Soon enough; soon enough.

The above street name, is pronounced (in Dutch), nothing like what a native English speaker might think. At first, it sort of looks like English. The letters are all there. Just arranged slightly different than in English, giving native English speakers a bit more self confidence than they should have when it comes to Dutch. (Which could be considered a good or bad thing). All this makes the whole situation seem do-able. But no. In Dutch this is pronounced, as spelled phonetically for a native English speaker, something like this: Air-sta (sta rhymes with 'duh') (Eerste); Hoo-HO (as in Santa: Ho-Ho-Ho) (Hugo) Duh (de); Grow-tuh (push your tongue up to the roof of your mouth, and then push the T out; for the T, that is) (Groot); Straught (Straat); All together now: Air-sta-Hoo-Ho-Duh-Grow-t-Straught! Luckily I've been here long enough, now, that I can read street names, and say them out loud in Dutch without thinking about it. Though I'm sure my inflections and pronunciations are a bit off. Lessons are to come. I've been spending some time getting to know Koningsplein, these days, in Amsterdam. And, I can happily say, that the return of spring is near.

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Hague:

The Hague. Named so because it isn't just 'a' Hague, but truly 'The' Hague. Somehow it doesn't work for other cities: the Paris, the London, the Berlin. Nope. Just, 'The Hague'. I've only been to The Hague once, and I saw the Girl with the Pearl Earing. (Update, February 2011: I have been many many more times now. The city is beautiful.)

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Return of Vondelpark:

The Central Park of Amsterdam and my favorite park in the entire city. It's back. (Update, January 2011: Vondelpark is no longer my favorite park in the city. There are many, many more.)

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Tidying Everything Up:

It's possible my tombstone may read: Here lies John, he went crazy from rearranging his living room furniture in too many configurations, too may times–and died. I'm currently having way too much fun with a new table, from my new favorite store: the kringloopwinkel. Translation: the second hand store. DIY–yes please!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Speaking Dutch:

When I find myself speaking Dutch, I can't help but think it sounds a bit strange. It sounds unlike any other european language I've ever heard, yet shares similar spellings with English and German. Whenever I speak it... I don't know. It just feels a bit odd. When I speak Dutch, (Dutch) people always listen carefully and smile.

Friday, April 3, 2009

In Amsterdam:

Een mooie dag in Amsterdam. English: A beautiful day in Amsterdam. It would have been great if someone would have told me the following before I moved here: 'Yeah… Amsterdam; it's a nice city. Beautiful, charming, full of bikes and canals, historic yet modern, tolerant, diverse, creative, you name it–the works. But, oh, yeah... by the way but the weather sucks, the winters are hell. Also, you'll probably have a hard time getting used to the lack of light by being so far up north on the globe... but once spring rolls around again... well, your chipper-ness and starry-eyed spirit will return. Don't you worry. Trust me.' If only I had known then what I know now. The return of summer is near. It's spring, in the city.