Friday, February 28, 2014

Istanbul, Turkey:




Five days in Istanbul was the way in which I said goodbye to February. Nothing too much was on my agenda while in the city; I was there as a tag-along, and spent much time in my hotel room–which overlooked a very busy intersection, shown above–and read many books and watched many lectures on European history from around 1750 forward. It was wonderful to be in Istanbul, to be able to experience it, and to understand and absorb the streets of this former capital of the Byzantine Empire. One of my favorite moments from the short trip was when I re-read the first chapter of Thinking With Things, just outside the Hagia Sophia, on the place where the city's former hippodrome once stood. A confluence of East and West, Istanbul is teaming with tension.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Saturday's Spring-like Sunlight:



This past Saturday, all day, I shadowed Amanda and be shadowed me; inseparable we were as we meandered around and throughout Vondepark; enjoying the rays of sunlight that glittered on the lakes' surfaces and tree trunks alike; stopped for espresso double shots; alongside chewy and perfect chocolate chip cookies (which somehow always taste more special when purchasing just one, as opposed to making some at home one's self); explored an Asian food market off the Kinkerstreet (must return soon to buy so many fun things; those noodles and spices–oh my!); waltzed over bridges, past antique gas lamps, and countless bikes; paraded into a gallery opening in the Jordaan (at Hazenstraat, to be exact); wined and dined away the evening, alongside the company of my other; pumpkin quiche and copious white wine were combined to give way to fluid conversations, which lasted far into the night.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Thinking with Things, at the Rijksmuseum:



Today I walked to the Rijksmuseum, you know, to stretch out my legs–walking is my new favorite pastime, now that my bike is currently locked away in the storage area on the ground floor of my house; flat tire. Bummer. Having not cycled through this fine city for about the past two weeks (note to self: get bike fixed), I've taken to walking as of late. The sensation of gliding through this city's streets (or bike lanes); sensing its luscious colors; feeling the twinge of a winter-spring gust of wind chill any exposed skin; all whilst being surrounded by everyone, and yet confined to my own little world–the one at the seat of my bike; these are the sensations of cycling which I now miss. Luckily I plan to get my bike repaired this weekend, and thus there are only a few more tram rides in sight. Though a positive aspect to this pedal-less existence that I current lead, is that I have been able to pour over countless pages of books–a small collection of which I recently ordered. One book is called 'Thinking With Things'; it's about Western cultures' preference for placing enormous amounts of aesthetic value on things–their form, their symbolism, and their pictorial representation of how we would like to see reality–rather than the cognitive functioning that things bring to human thought. We quite literally, think with things. Fascinating. Last week I ventured to the very tip of southern Spain for a photo-shoot at a gorgeous villa located a mere 200 m from the beach; the photographer is renowned, and it still amazes me that I have managed to cultivate my life in such a way, that such people are now within it. How fun. Today while at the Rijksmuseum's bookshop no one–this time–felt the need to have me prove my Dutch language abilities, as my mouth never opened. Instead, the lovely voice of Margaret Lavinia Anderson pleasantly piped through my headphones, informing my about European social developments throughout the latter half of the twentieth century: 'Europeans have never been especially good at pluralism,' she declared. With my nose in many books, my ears at full alert, my head in the clouds, and my heart headed in the right direction, my eyes soon lead me outside the museum and into its garden. Houses, gardens, glamour, and objects of human creation–and specifically those referred to as art in a Western context, whatever their past or present context may be–have seemed to consume my thoughts these past few weeks. Last year my intuition told me that big changes were underway, and that anything enacted in December 2013 would certainly lead to larger changes in the following year–2014. Changes are indeed occurring, within my own mind, within my views toward my own material outer and inner visceral worlds; all are slowly but surely, once again, talking expansive leaps forward. My life will take an uptick in intellectual productivity this year; I've already enacted the behind-the-scenes changes in order to be able to do so. And so it's with immense joy that I go forward, both into this upcoming weekend, the week ahead–which is reserved for six days of sensory stimulation in Istanbul–and the months and years still yet to come. Another book recently arrived within my collection of new reading material–The Journal Keeper–and my processing of its pages is now complete; its closing line delivers the most wondrously uplifting advice: 'Use your life to illuminate something larger.'

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Let There Be Light!

The signs of spring are slowly but surely returning to the Netherlands; choirs of birds, still–but not for long–visible in the city's trees, have begun to sing their morning and evening song; the sun continues to rise earlier each and every day, illuminating the sky at least until the evening begins (at 18:00); and it's now even possible–on a good day–to strut down the city's streets for a limited amount of time, five minutes or so–to the postbox and back, for instance–without even reaching for a coat. Spring will soon arrive in Amsterdam. And I am anxiously anticipating its annual bloom; let there be light!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Friday, February 7, 2014

Three Dutch Geese:


Two weeks ago I happened to visit the Rijksmuseum no less than four separate times. One of my favorite places in the museum that requires no entry ticket, is the bookshop obverse the café. Postcards and folded cards can be purchased for but a few Euros, and countless books that attempt to decipher the artworks that compose the museum's treasured collection line the bookshelves. On the last of my four visits that week, I cycled, parked my bike outside, near the lovely formal gardens at the museum's rear, and proceeded to–as if in a trance–walk toward the entry. My mission was simple: during one of my earlier visits I happened upon a book that would, I deduced, assist me in describing the components of 'art' with a bit more scholasticism. While walking toward the museum I happened to be listening to a wonderful podcast on design, which just so happened to be in English. Thus, I was 'in an English state of mind'. Upon descending the stairs to the bookshop's lower level, I searched for the book–headphones in ear, podcast still playing–yet I couldn't find it. The gentleman behind the counter was unoccupied by other customers, looked friendly enough, and so I proceeded to approach him, took out my headphones, and asked if he might be able to assist me in locating my desired volume. Upon opening my mouth–being in an English state of mind–I politely asked if this man knew if the book I was searching for was still in stock; I asked in English. He politely replied, 'Yes, but it's in Dutch.' As was expected. I replied, 'That's ok; I speak Dutch too.' At which point I heard a nearby voice, which came from about 2 m behind my left shoulder, extort, with slight resentfulness: 'Tschja. Waarom vraagt je het in het Engles?' Which translates to: 'Yeah ok (say it as if you are confused). Then why did you ask it in English?' Shocked, bewildered, and incredibility perplexed as to why someone would have the audacity to join in my conversation with the bookshop's employee, I quickly pivoted and saw a mid-50s Dutch woman standing very near; close enough to eavesdrop. Quite unsure of what, exactly, gave her the confidence to join my conversation and question my reasoning for speaking English rather than Dutch, I stumbled for what felt like a half a second, composed myself from the shock of her abrasiveness, and proceeded to ask, in perfect Dutch: 'Ik vind het heel interessant waarom je vroeg me dat.' (I find it very interesting why you asked me that.) Her jaw hit the floor and she quickly motioned to her friend, who was, unbeknownst to me, standing in front of the same bookshelves I was just searching through. What was this woman expecting? What gave her permission to castigate me for–incidentally–speaking English rather than Dutch? The whole exchange was rather insightful into the status of foreigners, and their subsequent acceptance, by those who were born in the Netherlands. On Monday I applied for Dutch citizenship. If only she knew that. 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Muiderpoort:

Muiderpoort is a former city gate located in Amsterdam Oost, obverse of the Tropenmuseum. This monument welcomes those unfamiliar to this side of the city. Its cupola is worn; the hands of its clock have seen countless hours, days, and years; and yet this welcoming site–Classical in all its beauty–still stands, as it has proudly done, since 1771.


Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Monday, February 3, 2014

Sunday, February 2, 2014