Sunday, March 29, 2009

Design:

Oh world of books and magazines and images and websites; and the ever so clever world of design: how you've taken over my life. Seriously. I don't say much, unless I'm passionate about the subject at hand. This rings true for the multiplicity of outlets and conversations to be had about designI'm a huge proponent of design for helping/giving-back/solving-problems, and not design for the sake of itself. Though there is beauty in design for design, as well. Example A A 'mood-wall' in an underpass–near Amsterdam, South-East. Which is known for being a 'rough' part of town. It should be noted, a suburb like this in the USA would be completely ok in everyone's mind. AMS, South-East (Zuid-Oost/Bijlermeer) has nothing on many parts of the USA. So: the city addresses the problem, does a study/brainstorm, and ideas are generated. A design firm is employed. As are contractors, among many others. Many exchanges of money later–helping prop up the economy, and in the end: the wall lights up pedestrian-bike paths at night. People are safer (in theory), and design has taken one tiny little step forward.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Life in Amsterdam:

Friends from way back in the day (meaning my university life)–are currently visiting me here in Amsterdam. Sometimes I forget who I am. Or the life I had before I moved to Holland. It’s quite easy to do actually, forget about your past that is. Of course there are pictures, and of course I’ll always, forever, replay memories and past experiences over and over in my mind. Those thoughts I’ll have forever–and will always hold tightly. Sometimes I have to hold them even tighter. With my American friends being here, it just makes me realize how quickly my past is ‘disappearing’, in a sense. In a way, I don’t mind. I moved to Holland to create a new life, and have succeeded in fulfilling most of my dreams to this point. Which is a big hard to read on ‘paper’. But also reassuring. I have fulfilled the dreams that I have so far dreamt up, at this point in my life. Why is that so hard to accept? Above all, I sometimes forget I’m in a country other than my own. And unlike European expats living in Holland, sadly my home country isn’t just a TGV train ride away (Paris), a quick hour flight (almost all of Western Europe)–and it’s not possible to pop back to my previous life for the weekend. It’s gone. That can only happen in my mind, and by looking through pictures. But the good news is I’m pretty good with the visuals in my head. I’m usually always happy. But it’s always nice to know, that at any given time, I can leave and walk away form my life here in Holland. Not that I ever would, but it’s nice to know I posses a ‘push in-case of emergency’ button. One that will whisk me away from Europe and the Euro for as long as I wish. I love it here in the land of Tiny. But I think I should allow myself a wee bit of leg room for mistakes–or less anxiety on my part. As I’ve annotated before, I’m always too hard on myself. The world is too big. I really do forget I’m in another country almost always. Of course I pay in Euros, and sometimes speak Dutch, but AMS is just like any other city I could live in. I imagine that I’m creating a life here and it’s a bit much to realize and process that. My days of studying are over–this is life. I have invoices to pay. And a salary. Most often I would say that a typical ‘drip’ coffee maker is just a cleverly disguised bong–it is. But it’s the connotations that go along with each of those items that make the coffee maker socially expectable, and the bong, not. Maybe sometimes, no matter how much it doesn’t make sense in my mind, it’s better to go with the flow of society–rather than question everything. But there comes a point where you must ask: When do you stop being yourself, and just conforming? If ever. In a way, I can’t help but think that my life has been a bit too rushed. I’m on 23. Yet somehow I can’t help but feel as if I’ve experienced too much for my age. I feel as if I’m 23 going on 30–and it’s a bit hard.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Getting Serious with Dutch:

I need to learn Dutch. It's quite upsetting to be, for instance, eating lunch by yourself–yet be surrounded by people, at the same time. All speaking Dutch, of course.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The European Way of Life:

An older post, from my former digital publication. They are quite interesting to read at times. It's definitely an adventure, reading through old posts that is. Just to see how I've changed over the years. This post was from May 2008, just before I moved to AMS, and I think it sums things up perfectly:



What a beautiful city this really is, slightly flawed, but still beautiful as ever; in addition–it will always be my hometown. I just went on a run downtown... my new favorite place to run these days. Running in Cincinnati is exciting because there's so much pedestrian life compared to the rest of the city, but after four years there's only so many places you can run before you get sick of running the same routes over and over.

What fun. I love just taking off in any direction and running in which ever way the wind blows me. I usually plan out every aspect of everything I do way ahead of time... it's much nice to just live in the moment and worry about the next hour, minute, day, of you life when it comes. Very relaxing. The 'Taste of Cincinnati' was going on downtown. Fun. Last time I ran around downtown with a friend, we ran through Newport on the Levee (sort of like an outdoor mall that's been a catalyst since it's opened) and she turned to me and said, '...check out all the fatties'. So true. I'm all for everyone being themselves and stuff, but I just don't see how some people neglect their bodies. It's just odd to me. No need to pump iron, just eat right. And here's the worst part; it's not their fault, it's America's 
Land of excess I call the USA. It really is.

People are just so used to being able to have whatever they want here. We live off credit, there's land and space to build large houses, condos, parks, ect, portions are out of control, and people don't take time to enjoy the aspects of life that make it worth living. The midwest American way of life is so strange compared to the rest of the world, and even the rest of the US. We just operate at a different pace. One that I'm not sure I care for. I love the European mentality on life. When you have a lack of space, you only have the essentials, and therefore have no need to be surrounded by excess; instead everything you own you have for a reason. Very Scandinavian. With less abundance and the opportunity to have whatever you want... you're content... and it's this aspect that I can't wait to have again in Amsterdam. But at the same time there's something to be said for America. It's such a great country in so many aspects, and completely unique. I love it.

I can't wait to ride my bike to work, have my small apartment next to the canal, ditch my car and take the tram and train everywhere as I hate driving (though it's the one time you're truly alone in the world, yet still surrounded by people), learn Dutch (language is so interesting), cook most meals myself from scratch again, and frolic in the park on weekends with a good book. Oh Europe, I miss you–see you in a month. (Update, March 2009: Geez. What an optimistic chipper man I was last spring. I think it was the sun–after being in Germany for three months of darkness. Well, hopefully this summer plays to the same tune.)