Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Growing Up in Amsterdam:


I do not understand the Dutch saying: 'Doe maar gewoon, dan doe je al gek genoeg.' That is, 'Act normal, that's crazy enough already,' in English. Seems a bit forced into a cohesiveness to me. And makes for some damn boring tendencies in the country. But Amsterdam and the Netherlands really are two different countries within one another. It's quite surprising to me, when I'm told stories about how people in other parts of the Netherlands dislike coming to Amsterdam, or: the Big-Bad-City. And yes I'm well traveled within and well versed about, Limburg. I'm also familiar with how international the province is, hence a lesser connection to the rest of the country. Interesting country the Netherlands is. Amsterdam is so tiny. I really love it though. I really couldn't imagine living anywhere else. I must get the Dutch down though. It's getting there. I understand almost all (ok, so about 65% in reality) of spoken and written Dutch. It's the speaking thing. I can speak if I want to. It's like when you back a raccoon into a corner (that I ever would do such a thing, Amanda), and have to provoke it to get a response. People can speak to me in Dutch, and it comes out in English.

This used to amaze me when I would someone speak to another Dutchie, in Dutch, only to hear the second Dutchie respond in English (usually to make sure their American friend didn't feel left out. Always appreciated). 'How do they do that?', I would ask myself. What it is, is that I'm slowly becoming bilingual. Yes, I say bilingual because even though two years of high school Spanish count for something, it also sort of doesn't. So technically, Dutch is my first, second language. And I love learning new knowledge that lets me see the world from a new point of view. I can feel myself hitting a milestone again. Emotionally and physically. My body is pretty much at the height and weight it will be for the rest of my life more or less (and good thing it's in shape and never gets too blobby).

Today I move out of this very minuscule Jordaan apartment (the sink leaks on you when you do the dishes, the washer is in the kitchen, and is broken, and full of stinky water, there is no real bed or couch, and our front door is just tall enough for an eight year old–we however, are not eight years old, and must duck to enter), and into our own. We cannot wait.But other than that. The view from this place was fab. I used to have a very large affection (and sort of still do) for the brand of Abercrombie & Fitch–for quite a long time. It really helped shape who I am. I worked there, actually. And made me much more outgoing. It wasn't just work–it was like being part of a club that instantly elevated you. And I met one of my best friends there. Imagine that. What did she say to me the very first time we spoke, you ask?: (As she attended to her appearance while standing in front of a mirror with no shame, and proceeded to explain.) 'I'm the most vain person you'll ever meet.'

As a young teenager I completely bought into their marketing scheme of American Classic, New England teenage-perfection, which I longed for–while growing up far far away from New England. Which was cleverly exhibited in their 'must be 18 or over to buy' mag-a-log, the AF Quarterly. The 18+ was because, the USA has this whole ordeal with nudity. It's almost as if the naked human body is a horrendous sight or something, and must never been seen without clothes–the way it's censored in the USA. Ever notice, with these sorts of things, that most people who have absolutely no problem with it, never say anything at all, while it's always the overtly conservative members of society that feel the need to speak up? And this mag-a-log was packed with nudity. Generate controversy to create a buzz? Check! Of course a few issues have made it across the ocean with me to Amsterdam.

And I loved the music that would play on the in-store CD's, had every mp3 (and even the in-store original mixes from 2004-2006). I was obsessed. Little did I know all that interest in the mag-a-log and the beautiful scantily clad American youth photographed by Bruce Weber hanging everywhere, and the company's obsessive placement of everything within the store, (which is the perfect environment for an obsessive natured person, like myself) would actually lead to an interest in branding (read: graphic design); storytelling (read: writing); the making of places (read: design). And dance music, which still pumps me up. All in all, I need to find more new music, more often. (And since originally writing this two nights ago, I have!) The Netherlands is a great place for live music. And I need to start seeing live (dance) music more often, too. I simply love to dance.