Tuesday, January 1, 2013

2012 in Review:

'There's always a question of the efficacy of anything that we acquire to somehow change our position in the world.' Dori Tunstall

Last year came and went as I moved one year further toward... the future.

As predicated, 2012 really was my year; my professional-self progressed, while my personal self (the two selfs being totally one in the same) decided to become entwined (because gays can do that here in the Netherlands!), while sitting on the edge of Denmark, looking out over and onto the shores of Sweden in the distance) to the most beautiful person–with the most magical self–in the while-wide-world. As one might imagine, summing up those experiences and feelings and the thoughts that come with such profound experiences, as those of the past year, has proven to be slightly difficult (see the archives: August-December 2012).

What I can say, is that 2012, with all its thrust, turned out to be just swell. I had rolled back in Amsterdam after first flying into it, just on the eve of 2012, fresh from Gdansk, in Poland. The fireworks flew, and the year turned with a bang–2012 was here! January came and went, and the days were gray and dark; my nerves shattered; myself standing in the rain (metaphorically here, eh) looking down a 'crossroads' where two wonderful options stood before me. Both took courage and one would entail consuming and employing my bravest of bravest of self moments. Afterwards, that self jetted off to the German-Czech Republic border, where it literally ran across the border (fun!), Elbe in sight. Romanticism was surely at its finest, within those woods. But out with romanticism, in with 'nomadism'...

2012 moved forward and May came arrived. Off was I to Scandinavia: to Denmark, Sweden, and Norway–the most magical and mysterious cluster of places on Earth (in my mind at least). Millennia-old churches dot the hills of provincial Norway, while in Sweden birch-trees are abound–Denmark is just flat. The Nordic has trapped my gaze and mind; thus I travel back at every chance (my initial three months in Copenhagen, years ago, solidifying my passion for that region of the world). Too bad, still, that I simply forgot to bring a coat with me to Norway, where lakes are still frozen over at beginning of June. Norway: colder than one might think. Bring a coat, I say.

The non-existent summer came, and went, and every-day, so it seemed, the rain came down–non-stop. And so the summer passed, without ever setting down on tiny Amsterdam. The few days that the sun did shine, I meandered in the park, cycled through the city, or headed to beach–the latter happening more often than one might think. The Amsterdam Marathon took place in October; a marathon I  decided to compete within, just three months earlier; a smooth move, one could say. Around the last turn of the Amstel, the Indische Buurt clearly in sight; the muscle to the left of the top of my right leg, right above the knee-cap, decides to stop working. So I stop, first aid helps with a shiny plastic aluminum colored 'blanket', while I scream, as I attempt to relax on a stretcher as the professional sport-medicine paramedic massages my right leg. It hurt; it was awful; and worst of all, I can't say that I completed my 2012 Amsterdam Marathon. This year though, I will.

Sandy, that feisty one which ravaged the United States, canceled my plans to travel to Cincinnati, in November. December proved to be 'flying-friendly', from Europe to the Northeastern United States, and so, to Cincinnati we were off. That being my first trip to the United States in about 2.5 years, the people, places, spaces, and language all both intrigued and delighted me; the latter due to the fact that, while now somewhat mysterious, the culture is also familiar, and so I reveled in fluently operating within it: 'Yes please! Thank you! Hello (in a retail environment), I'm looking for! Another refill please!'–it was wonderful. More or less, all of aspects of American-life that do not accompany my life, here in Amsterdam, I amplified and intensified as often and as much as possible throughout my time in North America. English being the most enjoyable aspect of the trip.

Back in Europe, I jetted off yet again to Berlin almost immediately after returning from the United States. Berlin was cold and dark and, not surprisingly enough, almost everyone spoke German, and I do not (rather, only the basics needed in public spaces). My NT2 (standing in for Nederlands als tweede taal–Dutch as a second language, that is, in English) Dutch language exams were scheduled for the day after my return to tiny Amsterdam, and I must say that my results are still unknown, but at the time I was relaxed, spirited, and concentrated. I expect the results to prove passing, as I know my knowledge of the Dutch language is finally one giant step further along its (never ending) journey toward fluency. After four years of writing about my times with this most joyous and expressive of Western-Germanic languages, I am proud to say that writing, reading, speaking, and listening, all occur naturally. Yet another herculean task that I am proud of myself for accomplishing in 2012: learning my first, second language.

Then, appropriately, I anticipated the New Year–2013!–roaming the streets of Paris, mastering the modes of chic, and delighting in the offerings of that most magical of cities.

Back in Amsterdam, 2013 rasped within the streets of the city–fireworks burst over the nighttime air–while I (or should one say we?) was(/were) tucked safely in bed...