Friday, May 31, 2013

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Growth:

Like those six bamboo bundles I wrote about a few weeks back, similarly, I too am growing. The past few weeks I have been trying to figure out a few things: a. What is happening to my life? and b. What am I doing my doings for?; For whom am I doing them?; Who is dictating what it is that I do, seen or unseen?; and c. What makes me happy, and what am I quite good at? Those were are very intriguing proposals to present myself with, as I looked forward, while looking back–quite often –over these past few weeks. Amsterdam is really a stunning city, yet it was only yesterday that I relayed to someone nearby, that, 'Amsterdam is beautiful and when you first move here everything is spectacular, and the buildings are cute as ever. Yet after year three, or four, that you must remind yourself that the Rijksmuseum really is something special, and not just a place where the tourists and cyclists make one another's lives tormented for the brief few meters that each's 'path' intercepts around the various traffic stops that ring the museum's property line perimeter.' Things like that. Remind yourself what a wonderful city this really is, and that time at home is much different than time spent elsewhere, if only for the 100% sanctuary feeling of security that comes with just that, home. My humble-abode here in the city does exactly what it needs to: it's turning into a jungle on the balcony, and after having taken care of almost all other interior aspects of the house, this quickly rising jungle takes all my attention in my house, these days. Growing am I and I only recognize that fully now, now that the last few fractured and thought provoking weeks have passed. Now that the winds have calmed, I can fully reflect on their affects to the landscape that is my life. Sometimes forced growth is unsettling during its doings, but only after the growth had slowed was I able to appreciate that it had occurred, whoever was maneuvering the levers and buttons and screens behind the curtain, I am in someway grateful for that. As Dominique Browning lays forth, 'slow love' is about knowing what you've got, before its gone.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Monday, May 13, 2013

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Crispness:

Amsterdam's hues of green tend to be on the yellowish side these days as the city and the globe continues its annual spin and, in doing so, plunges deeper into the refreshing season of spring. The rolling clouds today gave way to rain, while I was out and about shooting the images below. A crispness permeated the air, as the scents of light rain dispersed, and the sounds of tiny drops of water hitting pavement created a near-silent symphony to my delight. Amsterdam's on the edge of deep-green, and will be slightly golden hued, for only a week or two, and no more. Spring is nearly truly here, and with it will return the city's luscious spectacularity.









Saturday, May 11, 2013

As is June in Sweden:

Right now, as I type, I am sitting outside on my balcony, sipping my steaming coffee as my skin simultaneously sips up the weekend's morning sunlight. Weekends have become my new favorite time, where my schedule and real-world responsibilities slip away into nothingness, until Monday. Perhaps it's the fact that it's finally springtime and the sun is never far away, these days. And, if it is, it's usually tucked behind a few large and looming clouds; so it's still always near by.

As the years in Amsterdam continue, and the years begin to group themselves into nice little packets, or clusters, of five years intervals, I am starting to step back, reflect, and amaze at what my time in Amsterdam, thus far, has quite literally brought me. Lately I have been digging through my old digital files, so neatly archived on my external hard-drives and transported all over the world, all these years. To place this in perspective, I'm writing this from a MacBook Pro 13" (Retina!), which I bought during my trip to Chicago; it has a 128 GB hard-drive, and thus no internal storage. Needless to say, I have brought nothing of my former computer to my new digital home; everything is stored on external hard-drives. I am amazed at what I have been discovering on these digital storage spaces of mine: at the music that has trailed through my life; at the essays I'm discovering, written for countless English and architecture history courses during college; and all of the images I have amassed over the years. My whole digital life, beginning at the age of about 14, is stored on these hard-drives. That amazes me.

With this sudden surge of imagery and sound bites, comes memories. And a whole lot of them. There were such highs while looking back and down the long tunnel I conveniently call the past; emotions ran fluidly and endlessly during the shuffling of files. How is it that I had forgotten the wisdom of my own words? In Amsterdam, as of late, it seems as if part of myself has not been believing in myself, to the extent that I'm worthy–which is a lot. And that is truly unlike me. What is it that makes ones doubt one's self? External forces? Internal forces? Both, I imagine.

While gazing through the crystal ball to my past, this past weekend, has literally allowed me to read my thoughts from another time. There was once a day where this publication reached back to 2004, and those posts are also saved on these hard-drives. There, with the click of a spacebar, was me... As a 20 year-old, young gay man, living in San Francisco, on his own in the world for the very first time, ever; as a bewildered and bright eyed 18 year old leaving for college; as a confused 21 year old living in the East Village, wondering why everyone in New York City was... in such a rush; and yet again, there I was, as a delighted and eager-eyed 22 year old in Düsseldorf, attempting to learn German while living along the Rhine and reveling in all things European. Once again, all alone. All of those experiences have been so valuable to me, and I've, lately, been living so forcefully that I've forgotten to draw off the experiences of my past, to propel me forward in the future. I must not downplay or forget the achievements that are behind me, while always looking toward the right-now, with just a hint of future-thinking.

It was only one year ago that I was setting off from Amsterdam, to Scandinavia, via a Volkswagen. So transcending was the experience that the rich-hued greens and the vegetation–those weeping birch trees–still appear in my dreams, or at least my day-dreams and fantasies of my perfect world. While in Sweden, last year, the clouds were strikingly similar to those in Amsterdam: robust, well-rounded, gray, and ever-looming. Similarly, when the clouds aren't in sight, a warming sun shines its rays; though, no matter how warm, a cool ocean breeze blows, adding a slight chill to the cities' and country air. That's Sweden. And that's Amsterdam, too. One can even smell the 'fertilizer' wafting southwards, from its hover just above the pastures that lie north of Amsterdam, on a very blustery day. Add a bit of dampness and a crispness to the air, and that's this region of the world's weather, minus the fertilizer.

Appearing in the New York Times this weekend was an article about the Midsummer night celebrations that will soon be underway in Sweden; dancing around Maypoles, staying up all night, and sipping distilled liquids until the next day. I must go back.

The clouds a bit further south in Europe, here in Amsterdam, are today huge, and also gray. So much so that the sky looks like a gigantic canvas of Swiss-cheese, the holes appearing as patches of blue in the distance. Every time that the sun ducks behind another bunch of clouds, I have to pretend that–as I'm wearing shorts and a sweater–I am incredibly warm. That's a fitting metaphor for this city, right now: Everyone dressed in sweaters, but simultaneously wearing shorts, and whenever the sun ducks out from behind the clouds, the city screams and cheers, wanting more–but as the sun retreats, a great sigh can be overtly loud. This city is on the verge of an tipping point; the leaves are luscious; the flowers nearly in full bloom. A rumble is forming in Amsterdam; an aftershock from the celebrations that surrounded the city from April 30th, when Queen Beatrix abdicated in favor of her son, King Willem-Alexander. We're waiting for summer, and it's nearly here. As is June.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Six Bundles of Bamboo:


As the weeks pass, my words have given way to action, as my body seems to constantly be flitting about; running 20K almost every weekend, cleaning out the closet for spring (and filling in a few gaps with some new threaded-items, while carelessly forgetting others in the city, like my Burberry scarf), and shaping up the balcony–itself sprawling southward, with new plants, and such. Yes; the past few months have been defined by movement. Yet oddly, that movement isn't taking place within Amsterdam's more pleasure oriented areas; it's happening via my daily route to the studio–on my bike or by tram, depending on the day, my soundness of sleep, and the weather–through half of the city, though rides through this city could be seen as pleasurable, by some. Myself included on good days.

Recently, while in Chicago, a great friend who lives in the city by the lake inquisitively asked, 'So. Do you, like, ride your bike to work everyday and stuff? Like do you actually use it to get around the city?' Ok course! It's so puzzling, to me now, how the many aspects of my life in Amsterdam–that present themselves to me, or that I choose to engage with–on a daily basis (like recycling, everything; cycling everywhere; taking the 'tram'; going to the bakery; etc!), are not aspects of my life that I think of as special, or European. But if I look back, and think... hard... at one time, I wanted to move back to Europe for the cobblestones, the cheeses, the history and the progress taking place now.

Sometimes I overlook the aspects that compose the backdrops of my life, for the foundations of my life, which they are not. I must remind myself of that. I brought Amsterdam to myself and I enabled and set into motion, the backdrop my life is lived against. It's a beautiful backdrop, and I'm happy that I had both the ambition and courage to to come here.

Like the three olive trees that this winter stood in my living room, (and which have, since the return of spring, resumed their stance on the balcony), I too have been placed back outside. The dark days of winter are over for this latitude of Europe. At least the weather seems to have led the city's citizen's to believe just that; well, at least me. As such, two weekends ago the balcony was 'refreshed', 'renewed', and rejuvenated. Luscious is one way to describe the entourage of lovely gray hued pots that systematically align across the edge of the 6m long open-portion of the balcony–overflowing with green–while walls of bamboo flank the edges, in hopes of turning this well sized outdoor urban garden, into an outdoor urban jungle. Tiki-torches included.


Thus, the six bundles of bamboo have taken precedent over the three olive trees. The bamboo, being tender and new, needs mending to the most; the olive tress have taken the back seat, you see. And so is life: bigger, larger, and grander visions become abound, once the smaller and pint-sized plans are complete. Our balcony is no exception; freshly budding greens have transformed its feel. No longer confined to small pots, no longer trapped by their former homes, the three replanted olive trees are sure to grow amongst the new nutrients they'll now find below. Stemming tiny olives, are those trees, whose size will not exceed anything larger than a garbanzo bean. Alongside the three trees, sprouting tall and proud, grows the lavender; purple and smooth, velvety and stern, chaotic yet composed, and glamorous, all around.

These six clusters of bamboo, though, are wild in size and will eventually reach a height of three meters. Once true, they will be wonderful to listen to, as the wind rustles through their oversized leaves–as it already tends to do–while the sun beats down from above to strengthen their stance. Like the bamboo, I am strengthening my stance, in life; I am finding that my former dreams and goals have now been achieved–life goals. Life goals at 27! Were my goals not ambitious enough, or am I simply living my life to the fullest and enjoying everything around me that I've pulled into my sphere of the world? The latter, of course. Life goals can always be rethought, and I'm doing just that, right now, as I have been, over the past few weeks and months.

Like the bamboo, I'm only going to grow bigger, wiser, and stronger–both mentally and physically. I must prepare for this phase, yet also ensure that it happens. I only have one body, and as far as I know, won't be getting another one anytime soon. So I'm learning to love mine, all over again.

Six bundles of bamboo have found a new home on my balcony; as they grow, so do I.