On Nov. 23, 2005 I moved to The Hague from Washington, DC. This is my new Dutch life.


Yukky Dutch Word of the Day: Pindakaas

So, tomorrow I leave to go get married. Just like that. Months and months of agonizing over where to have our wedding, wondering if our family and friends will hate us for making their lives difficult... It's strange that it will all be said and done in just an evening.

For those of you who didn't RSVP - I assume you aren't coming to South Africa at the last minute. If you are coming, you better tell me by tomorrow afternoon if you want the fish or the beef. I also need to order you a chair.

Anyway, in my absence I leave you all to ponder the Yukky Dutch Word of the Day: Pindakaas

To you and me, pindakaas is more or less peanut butter. That's alright except that literally it means "peanut cheese." I dunno why, but to me that transcends yukky and goes straight to gross.

Peanut cheese. Nasty!

BTW - Wikipedia has an entry on peanut butter that includes the origin of the Dutch word. Apparently, it would have been illegal to use the word butter to describe it. Typical.



People Are Strange

With less than a week to go before my wedding day, I feel like I'm having an out of body experience. It's weird to go about my usual routine when a major aspect of my life is about to change.

No, I'm not nervous or scared. I have not a single doubt. It just feels weird. It's probably because we're going away to get married, so the family isn't arriving en masse bringing with them all sorts of chaos, a la Pretty in Pink. It doesn't seem real yet. A year is also a long time to plan and think about something. You get used to the idea that it's "still months away."

So this out of body experience is really a bit more like I'm really hyper aware. In a way, I'm having a lot of "yogic" moments - that is to say that I'm noticing all the little things in life that you often overlook. My teachers would be proud because all I feel is the present moment, in spite of all the plans we're still making and all the little bits and pieces we're still chasing down.

And with my eyes wide open, these are the things I noticed this morning on my walk from Amsterdam Central Station to my office. All I can say is, people are weird:

-- a guy intentionally driving up on a curb, nearly running me over
-- a woman on a bike with a mini-skirt hiked up to her waist flashing hot pink panties
-- a car accident
-- about a dozen young, male tourists in Barney's coffeeshop (you smoke pot in coffeeshops here) at 9am

And also, why do some tourists wear high heels to go on walking excursions around the city?



Yes, We Have No Bananas

Like most children of the 80s I relished in fashion. I was over the moon when my grandmother gave me a pair of parachute pants for my birthday. The more flaps and zippers, the better. Pastel pink and gray? Hooray!

However, around 7th grade I shed my Madonna bracelets and tossed out my hot pink, lace hair bows for something a little darker. I pioneered the wedge haircut (a la Human League) in my middle school and I discovered black eye liner. Whatever said, "I don't give an ef what you think about how I look" I wore. I stirred up quite a controversy in The Middle of Nowhere, Kansas. Tanya Carter even had her youth group pray for me.

Tanya Carter became a lightening rod for my middle school angst. She was popular even though she was a bit trashy. She was a bit of a bully, but all bark and no bite. My friend B- and I were the only kids in school that stood up to her. For 30 minutes each morning in homeroom, it was all out war.

Our hatred for all things Tanya Carter morphed into a blind rage against banana clips - her favorite hair accessory. Tanya Carter wearing one every single day with venus fly-trap bangs glued to her forehead by that stinky Aussie Sprunch Spray was reason enough to dis the banana clip, but it was also the prop they used to create Geordi La Forge's "visor" on Star Trek The Next Generation. What a paradox of pop fashion! You put the geekiest of Star Trek accessories in your hair??

(I dunno why someone took this photo, but I found it on Flickr too. Tell me that doesn't look evil!)

To this day, the mere mention of a banana clip makes me cringe. Of all the things 80s that are making their way back on the runways these days, it's the one thing I cannot stomach. Bring back black and white polka dots. I've always been a stripes kind of girl. I have to admit, I even like leggings with bubble skirts. But I cannot condone the wearing of a banana clip. No way. No how.

To my horror, I saw a woman wearing one on the train the other day. Her hair snaked down the back of her head like an electrocuted poodle. She teased her bangs because there's nothing else you can do with them. I lost my breath. My heart quickened. Thinking she might just be horribly out of fashion, I scrutinized the fake tortoise shell paint on the surface of the clip. No chips. No evidence of pealing. It was new. *gasp*

Take a stand, my dear readers. Just say no. No to the banana clip. Do not let it clasp it's easily-breakable little tines over your organically-shampood locks. You have the power to stop this insidious trend in its tracks.

Just say no.


I Sit Therefore I Bike

Nothing says "dork" like a recumbent bike.

This image was posted on Flicker and is actually of Edinburgh, but you get the idea. Imagine seeing one of these things in the middle of a crowded city.



Like I Said, Strongish

I have no excuse and yet one of the best excuses in the world... I'm sorry I've neglected you, faithful readers, but alas I've been busy. Not just any ole busy, but "trying to plan my wedding" busy. Not just any wedding, but a wedding that's a hemisphere away with a wedding planner who's idea of "planning" is to do it all at the last minute.

But... I was going to tell you about my new job.

So, I've left the world of do-gooding, environmentalism for a stint at shilling consumer products. I do feel a bit ashamed. I really wanted to stay on the righteous path with the rest of the high and mighty. On the other hand, you could say that I did pretty well considering that I barely speak the language of the country in which I live.

I had to give up on such crazy notions as continuing with non-profit work or focusing on a low-impact industry. I had to go, and go strong, for whatever I could get. I bought a new suit and actually practiced my interviews in the shower.

The sad truth is that I interviewed at: an oil company, a shipping/trucking company, and a Fox television channel (dude, that guy was really weird too). I declined to interview at a portal with a large porn collection. I dropped my name in the bucket for an internal communications position at a massive, and I mean massive, consumer products company. They were "overwhelmed with applicants." Oh well.

So, ending up at a teensy weensy marketing/advertising company (I'm employee number 1 or 2 depending on whether you count the owner as an employee) run by a British expat is not so bad, really. One might even say I'm lucky.

Setting aside the fact that we have only two clients, it's not a bad deal. I've always liked working at a start up. I have a lot of autonomy and my boss is really inclusive. No more silo. It's refreshing. On the other hand, it's a lot of time spent hanging out with one person... who has a big personality. On yet another hand, he buys me coffee and had someone come in the other day to give us head and neck massages.

It's like the good ole days of the .com boom. Some who read this blog might remember the muffins. ;)

Another plus is that my job is in Amsterdam, right in the Jordaan. My window looks out over the lovely Prinsengracht, the Princes Canal. Never mind the 45 minute train ride there and back, life is clearly better in Amsterdam. B- and I went to one party and managed to meet two climbers and someone connected to the yoga community. We could even have, uhm, what do you call that again? Uhm, uh. Oh yeah! A life. We could have one of those. Imagine that.

The commute is a drawback in so much as we are about an hour away from any friends we make.


So, what are we to do?