Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A Snowflake Filled Jordaan:

Most often I do not take pictures of Amsterdam from waist down. I always shoot upward. What can I say; I have lofty goals. Mainly, however, this is  because the gables of houses from centuries past are so beautiful. Each unique. Each stunning. But lately I've been seeing the city in a whole new way. And I notice a change in my photography too. Amsterdam is showing me another side of herself, yet again. And in my pictures, I'm starting to see the life, in the city around me.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Saturday, December 18, 2010

December in the Netherlands:

I've been to Maastricht too many times in the past week, and it's super decorated for Christmas. Amsterdam could take some pointers from the south in terms of decorations. But back in Amsterdam my Christmas spirit, is in full swing. I put up our tree a few weeks ago and it's looking fabulous. (Have to love theses archaic pagan-esque seasonal rituals). Lastly, I have been freezing my ass off, because the Netherlands has been a frozen tundra of snow and ice for the past week. I love it. And right now I'm off to spend the weekend in Deventer, in the province of Overijssel. For a weekend of snow and many many people strolling through the streets dressed up as if they were pulled straight from the pages of Charles Dickens Victorian era novel.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Singel:

This view of the Singel is one of my favorites; the bridge that spans this portion of the canal is situated at the confluence of Spui and Koningsplein, which then leads to the Leidsestraat, and then to Leidseplein, and then along toward Museumplein. It's easy to see, and experience, once equipped with the knowledge of where, exactly, in Amsterdam to go; that everything's connected within this city of onion-like layers.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Friday, December 3, 2010

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Monday, November 8, 2010

Friday, November 5, 2010

Yesterday I Cried, About Dutch:

I really tried not to. I cried because of my daily schedule. I cried because I don't speak fluent Dutch, which means I don't understand everything around me 100% of the time. I cried because I'm realizing I live in a country other than my own–and because of that, life will be just a bit more complicated. But because of that, it's also full of love. And oh so rewardingly beautiful. I guess it's just one of those weeks.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Growing Up:

As I grow older, and continue to 'work', it becomes more and more clear to me who is a 'do-er' and who is a 'say-er'. Those who become the 'say-ers' in life, aren't necessarily the most attractive, or smartest–but came to be in their position through blind determination and ambition. I read a piece on the New York Times last week about centenarians–that select group of people that lives to be 100 or more years old. It was interesting. Most of them said they didn't have much money when they were young(er), pushed all negatives out of their life, and usually maintained close family ties–and enjoyed life with a certain loved one by their side. Aging is so complex, and at one point you stop growing physically, and your body begins aging. Age creeps up on you. But as I get older (and I'm probably writing this because my birthday is on Saturday), I can't help but look back on my past, reflect, pause, and continue. For starters, I couldn't be more proud of where I am or how I arrived 'here'. And I do not mean the Netherlands when I say 'here'.

I have already accomplished so much, at such a young age.

My life has taken the 'design/architecture/writing/editing/publications' route. And I'm more than ok with that. But I also know that there has to be more to life than working 40 hours a week, Monday through Friday. And by moving to the Netherlands–or maybe it's just growing up–I now realize how privileged I am to live in a city with running water, proper sanitation of waste, rubbish removal, paved streets, etc. This appreciation has came to be through the paying of my income tax to the Netherlands. This applies to everyone in the Netherlands  But then again, the Netherlands is an almost completely artificial county, and everything (meaning the soil, trees, bushes, etc.) have all been touched by human hands. Almost all of the Netherlands could easily be a postcard. It is beautiful. And the price of maintaining this beauty is high. I get that. But I also get that, realizing that tomorrow can be better (as I recently heard Oprah say in her 2008 Stanford commencement address), is the only way up. Not that today isn't great, you see. But everything can always be better.

I think that social classes and social hierarchy are all completely made up and based off emotions and self-presentation. J.K Rowling recently said in an interview that the only thing that has really changed about her, since becoming a billionaire, is that she dresses better. And of course she's able to buy lots of stuff. But stuff doesn't make you happy, and it certainly doesn't make me happy. As Oprah also so gracefully says, 'Surround yourself with those who are going to lift you higher.' I think she's totally right with this one. But it also means respecting those who you surround yourself with. Maintaining your ground. But aspirations, and ambition, will get you everywhere. And so will a dream. You have to see it before it can happen.

As I grow up, I realize that while I make more money now than I ever have in my life... that I'm still relatively young, and that this (yearly) amount can only grow higher, as I continue to grow. Also I also heard Oprah say in her Stanford speech (And what's my deal with Oprah, by the way?), that when she was her early 20s she made $22,000 a year and thought to herself: 'Wow! $22,000. Imagine what I'll make when I'm 40–$40,000 a year!' And look where she is now. It is very interesting to study who and how some people rise, while others tend to fall, or falter.

I'm determined to rise, to never let myself forget how much I've accomplish, and to only continue to push on further toward my dream–which I develop and paint (in my head) each and every day. I will do great things. I feel I already am. And I am curious as to which great things I will do in the future, where my dreams will take me, and who it is that I will choose to surround myself with. The world is my canvas, and I want to make sure I paint every possible inch. Or maybe I'll leave some spaces on the canvas open–you just never know.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A Monumentus Year in Amsterdam: Part 2

In August I went to Budapest and to a few smaller towns/villages/cities, near the Hungarian-Croatian border–one of them being the European 2010 Capital of Culture: PécsHungary is spectacular and certainly an interesting mix of many European cultures. After Hungary, about three weeks later, I also went to the USA. I went with my Dutch man–and showed him my country. It was lovely to be there again after not visiting for some time. We went to: New York City, New Haven, Boston, Chicago, Cincinnati, and Nashville. Upon registering at the gementee (sort of the main office of the city, or your neighborhood, depending on the situation) you get a card that says 'Je bent écht Amsterdammer'. And I am: Ik ben een echte Amsterdammer (I am a real Amsterdammer). I've even been taking to my Dutch lessons as of late–quite rigorously. The other day I told myself, well actually wrote myself: 'Hello there mister, You have no excuse not to know Dutch by now.' And then I proceeded to list all the reason why I don't know Dutch by now (which were none except lack of effort), and realized then and there that it's time to get down with my Dutch. I'm taking Dutch Lesson, and I have the Dutch Rosetta Stone (thanks Andy), and lastly, I live with my Dutch boyfriend–so I do get enough practice. This learning Dutch thing shouldn't be too hard. 
And it isn't. Two weeks ago I had dinner at Het Molenpad on Prinsengracht, and spoke Dutch over dinner for about three hours. I was proud of myself and it's not as difficult as I tend to think. I'm learning that speaking another language is about going with it, and admitting to yourself that you will make mistakes. These days I just say my thoughts as they come–edited in the mind first, of course–and most often Dutchies help me out if my word order is off, or so. I enjoy the fact that I am learning Dutch–it's the key the Netherlands. You can live here and speak only English–but if you did–you would miss half the fun. Kind of the same way I could imagine that moving to Moscow would be much less fun if you lived there for years and never learned Russian–you'd definitely miss out on something. I've deduced that this distinctly-Dutch culture is: funny, humorously humble, tolerant, diverse(ifying), direct, penny-pinching (it's true), modern, and (they say) the most egalitarian as they come, these days. And I sort of like that. And then at other times, I don't.