Sunday, April 29, 2012

FOAM Musuem's Garden:


'The New York Times Photographs' exhibition now going on at the FOAM Museum in Amsterdam, while interesting, is not as intriguing, interactive, or intensive–as I had wished. But that's ok, I imagine; the newest edition of their magazine, instead (with the exhibition photos included) is superb–with its eight different types of paper. Count em'; eight.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Longing for Sunlight, and Picnics in the Park:


I have been listening to way too many podcasts from Debbie Millman as of late, and I'm finally receding to a normal rate of repeating these 40-minute podcasts. But, I immensely enjoy the insight that they provide me into the kaleidoscopic worlds of psychology, branding, anthropology, artistic inspiration, graphic design, and–oh-so important–the qualities that make us human. Which, I imagine, means that my listening to them won't be decreasing dramatically, anytime soon.

One day a while back, when having coffee with a friend at De Jaren, I heard myself explaining how I frequent the Athenaeum Newscentrum on Spui at least once a week–to survey, smell, and slip through the most-recent magazines on display. What can I say; I'm visually hungry. Only after I explained my actions, did I realize that this weekly ritual I undertake–my version of church you could say–is often subtracting Euros from my back account, but also providing me with endless amounts of inspiration and further direction for my future.

Sometimes I stumble along the way; like earlier this week. Occasionally I have moments where I'm not sure in which direction I'm headed, or what the future may have in store. And when those moments happen, I must make sure to be aware of them, and not let them escalade into anything more than the confused and jumbled thoughts they are. Because, at the end of the day, all of those disorganized thoughts have a common thread. And it's up me to sew all those thoughts into a stunning patchwork quilt, enabling me to see the bigger picture, and continue onward with direction in my life. I am longing for sunlight and picnics in the park.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Power of Consciousness:

Being conscious is what allows me to wake up in the morning and say: 'It's another brand new day; it's great to be alive; let's go!' It's consciousness that enables me to know which brand I prefer over another, and, for instance, which turn to take next when cycling through the city. As I grow older and realize that there is still so much, that's so far ahead of me. And it's reassuring to let myself know that, indeed, it's going to be ok–even if the outcome, of any given situation, is unbeknownst to me. But then, if it is true that I'm indeed conscious of the decisions that I'm making on a daily basis, should I not be, in some way, able to direct and guide my future? As the world is not linear and is rather a vast network in its workings, I doubt then, that even those resourceful enough, could pull enough of what they want into their sphere of the world to completely direct their futures. Making me realize I'm just another small dot in the bigger picture of it all. Mini-fires will come and go, and some will be put out, and others might burn uncontrolled. But I guess that's life in the respect that the future is just so hard to predict, let alone control.

While walking on the streets of Amsterdam–a real rarity for me, I tell you; I'd rather cycle–I often see men of an older age going about their day. Like today. While walking down the street I strode past a gray head of hair–an elderly man–who stood sporting a quite dapper plaid scarf, and a navy blue overcoat, peering through a reflection-blanketed display window and into the intoxicating world of retail beyond. I stopped and pondered what it was this man might be looking toward, or for. Lasting for all but a second, that thought–like a hyper-text–gave way to yet another, and I quickly found myself thinking about what it is I'll be doing when my head of hair is all gray, and my dapper scarf, too, keeps me warm on blustery days. Where is it that I'll be? Will that scarf keep me warm on the streets of Amsterdam, during a chilly springtime day in April; or will it keep me warm in Buenos Aires, where the seasons mirror, and April might instead might call for the addition of another layer. While I'd love to take for granted that I'll live in Amsterdam for the rest of my life, who really knows. I could stay here forever, or one day I could live in North America–hopefully still needing that roof for a shelter of two. But in the end, I have no idea what will happen. I know, though, that what makes me wake up each day, these days, is reason enough; so many wonderful events, milestones, opportunities, advancements, and sources of inspiration present themselves to me on any given day. What matters is how much of that I'm consciously aware of, and how much of that, I then in turn choose to process. Life is so open to entanglement, but which paths and subjects to entangle with?

These days I like to tell myself that what I'm doing is only leading to more exciting and enticing moments that will continue to enrich my life. For the most part I've been on a loosely-defined path my whole life, with a secret trajectory in the back of mind, that's only ever partially conceived and always seems to sort of gradient-off into an absolute dissolve, upon looking for any exact details as to any plan of action; that all becomes processed and worked out when needed. Professionally I am doing very exciting things; but if that professional side of me wouldn't be there, would I still be professional, and also, would I still be me? Good questions, answered somewhat in this podcast, in which the interviewee states, 'Who am I if I'm not m.roach@marthastewart.com?' Without any professional purpose my days would certainly have much less structure, and I would certainly have more time, but the regimented portions of my day would fall away–and I would have to find new ways to give meaning and structure to my life, as no one else will do that for me. I imagine what I'm attempting to express, is that, my interests throughout my life have always seemed to be a bit left-of-center and slightly disparate, yet all quite passionate, and only now have I begun to understand how it is that I've rolled them all into a calling that's lead me to collaborate with some of the greatest minds, which in turn has allowed me to build and expand my knowledge. Life in Amsterdam has provided me with the freedom to explore my interests, pursue them, and in return, enabled me to feel as though I'm contributing to the world around me, even though it might be in a tiny way–every bit counts.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Monday, April 16, 2012

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Rijsel On the Bank of the River Amstel:


Yesterday, in the very late of the afternoon, I dashed off on my bike toward the eastern bank of the Amstel, headed for the scene of Amsterdam's most in-the-moment French-Flanders–with a clever twist loaned, in part, to its Dutch context; a tri-fusion kitchen, Rijsel. The service was spot on for Amsterdam, and perhaps that's because the staff seemed to all relatively be around their late-20's, and they all genuinely seemed to enjoyed what they were doing, at that moment in time. Service in Amsterdam by servers who care; what a rarity in this city. They even smiled. An open kitchen, a white and well lit-open atmosphere, and proper ventilation–altijd handig–lends a certain un-Amsterdam feel to the whole experience. And I have to say, in a good way, that's kind of nice. A French infused kitchen, at the bank of the river Amstel, in the oh-so lovely Amsterdam.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

You and I:

Prior to moving to Amsterdam I had never before lived alone, having always had some form of roommate. But never a front door to call my own, until I moved to Westerpark. That time in my life was, I'm sure, greatly transformative in terms of growing up and standing on my own two feet, in terms of: making sure that I wake up everyday to be where I need to, making sure my surroundings were sanitary and pleasant, and more or less making sure I paid all my invoices (all written in Dutch to me at a time when my Dutch couldn't have been less existent) that allowed my passage into the realm of 'adulthood' in the city of Amsterdam–and the world in general. Now of course 'being an adult' consists of more then paying taxes and having a shelter to care for; a multiplicity of demographics, emotions, and self-presentation all swirl into the mix equally. But, I'm happy to have lived alone in a city I knew very little about, but felt so passionate toward. Living alone, for that year, allowed me to discover and understand what it is that I need to do, to take care of myself, physically and mentally, as well as emotionally. It only fostered a further understanding of who I am, and what it means to be me.

All of this has further fostered my growth and progress as a person. My current state of shelter, defined as not living alone; indeed living with another, under one roof. The footprint that this aforementioned roof covers roughly 67 m2. Just as I had not dwelled alone before moving to Amsterdam, nor had I lived with a significant other, either. But just as living alone taught many valuable lessons for deployment in life, so too has living as a duo. Never before have I been able to wake up next to the one person I care most about in life, ever morning, every day. Nice as it is, it comes with many other unexpected positives, like the fact that, no matter what, your knight-in-shining-armor will never be too far away–always there to lend a helping hand, and vice versa. Every morning I wake up to a flood of sunlight, as the sun pokes over the tiny rooftops further east and continues its climb, and the person who lends light to my life, is almost always there to enjoy it with me.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Westward Sunsets:


Life in Amsterdam is moving along at the usual pace these days, and the sun stays up later every evening, and the birds begin their morning song earlier each day. It's exciting, exhausting, and a bit unbelievable as to how far I've come on my little journey that I originally decided to embark on more than four years ago. Not only have I found a lovely city, but I stumbled upon love in that lovely city, and it has taken me to new heights, and new mental states of ecstasy that I previously had never experienced. Never did I imagine that moving across the ocean, and bunking down within a tiny village in a tiny country, would bring so much joy into my life, in such unexpected, surprising, and always insightful ways.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Alice Rawsthorn's Words of Wisdom:

'But both symbols are alike in reflecting the design values of their respective eras. Just as the 60-year-old bar code exudes the discipline, consistency and imperiousness that people expected from mid-twentieth century design, the QR code has the idiosyncrasy and spontaneity that we now crave–or at least it seems to.' –Originally published on the International Herald Tribune January 8, 2012

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Monday Through Friday...

I get to wake up, shower, eat, invigorate myself with caffeine, dress myself (fashion show!), slick back my hair, throw on my thick-rimmed specs, and cycle westward toward my source of income and copious amounts of inspiration. Everyday, I play with images and words–all with a purpose. I like that. And I really like where my future is headed. Mainly because I directed that way.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Signs of Spring, at Elandsgracht:

The trees that hover high above Elandsgracht are just about to burst open and cover the tiny street below with abundant amounts of shade, while hiding the façades of the houses that border the sidewalks. Just about all of the trees in the city look like this at the moment–it's as if the city were sitting on the edge on its seat, just waiting to jump up and shout out, 'Spring has arrived!'

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Monday, April 2, 2012

Learning Dutch:


Today is Monday and that means–in my agenda at least–that Dutch lessons are tonight. I'm actually improving in my Dutch abilities quite swiftly with these formal lessons of mine. I'm currently studying-slash-preparing for the NT2, which is the big-official test that you need to pass to be considered a Dutch speaker in the eyes of the Dutch government. The population of Amsterdam is more or less 50% ethnic/native Dutch, and 50% non-native Dutchies, mostly of non-European decent. So you see, Amsterdam is quite linguistically varied, and speaking Dutch is by no means a necessity if you live in this tiny village on the North Sea. But, if you do speak Dutch, windows and doors will be thrown open for you, and opportunities will be further abound. Not to mention that understanding written communication within the city will be second-nature, and all 'official' communication with the city itself, is much easier to confront, in Dutch. I like that my Dutch is on-par, able, and more importantly–improving day by day. 

The days of pretending to understand Dutch, are over. 
And that's nice. 

Sunday, April 1, 2012

De Ysbreeker:

On Saturday the other and I set out from the Indische Buurt headed toward the FOAM museum, stopping for coffee along the way due to the freezing-cold wind, and the cold-wet weather in general. We first stopped at Koffee in Oost, long on my list of places to visit. I can't recommend the place, unfortunately. I really wanted to like the cozy setting, but after it took the five people working, 15 minutes to come to our table–situated, literally, right next to the front counter–only to have us order two coffees... I've crossed them off my list. Not normal and not appreciated. I'm not one to care when it comes to slow-service–more time for intimate conversations, I say–but it was bad, even by Amsterdam standards. All it takes is a, 'Hey, welcome. It's super busy at the moment so I'll be with jullie just a few minutes.' Then everyone's at ease; including them! So, after quickly downing our espressos and paying as fast as we could, we set off for the FOAM once again, only to stop halfway there at the always satisfying De Ysbreeker, located alongside the lovely Amstel. Unlike the other coffee refueling station, De Ysbreeker delivered in every respect: cozy-atmosphere, super coffee, even super-er tart, and friendly service with a smile that perfectly compliments the extensive menu, itself full of options. I like those last few qualities in a restaurant/café–after all, that is what I'm paying for.