Thursday, June 14, 2007


Things are getting more normal here in Amsterdam. Sorry for the blah blah blah post - it wasn't a comment on how I felt about Jeopardy but was supposed to be a placeholder until I had the inclination to write more. I guess last week was a pretty tough week for me.

I had forgotten how hard it can be to be new in an area. While I have friends here from before, they, of course, have their own lives. Everyone here is super scheduled like in DC or are married with kids so it changes the dynamics. And - after spending 8 hours a day at work talking to strangers, trying to figure out what it is I'm supposed to do and learn all the crazy acronyms that come along with this particular organization, I'm often quite tired, fed up, and cranky when I get home. I want the easy comfort of my DC friendships where we can go to the 'local' and bitch and moan and laugh or I can just say -come on over and lets order Chinese and watch crap tv. I don't really have anyone to do that with here.

But I talked it out with my fellow expat - Mike D (yo! Wat up?)- and realized that I can't just sit on my ass and expect the world to come to me, as nice as that might be. So after a week of feeling like I might be invisible, feeling like I was destined to die alone in this apartment and noone would notice until the smell got too bad and they would break in by my back balcony to find me dead in the tiny closet of the bathroom, I had that day where I cried a bit. Cursed a bit. Had a good pout. Made nasty comments out loud on my balcony hoping that the loving couple that kiss each other on the balcony all the time could hear me. Then I got a grip.

I went online and joined a group - something called that organizes events for a mostly expat crowd. I went onto an online dating site and set up a blind date. I signed up for a pilates class and found a tango class. I got on my bike and explored the city on Saturday afternoon. Shopped in the street market- bought peonies, strawberries, toyed with the idea of buying an antique linen nightie. Sat in a cafe called "The Cat in the Vineyard" reading my latest New Yorker with a bunch of jolly old Dutch women who kept laughing, ordering more drinks, inviting in more jolly old Dutch women and finally just took over my table and sat with me. They didn't speak English but included me in their conversation, nonetheless. after about twenty minutes, I decided to give up my seat for the latest old fat jolly Dutch Woman who was arriving and move on. I rode for a while down to Prinzengracht and as it started to rain, chained up my bike and went into a cafe for a cappucino. Lovely!

Rode around and explored for a while. Almost got pushed into a canal by a guy in a Range Rover (these streets are narrow!). I went into the Blues Record Shop that I've been walking by for the past three years that's never been open. Chatted up the owner who told me of a good concert coming up. Found a CD that I will buy when I get over the shock of paying 20 Euros for a CD. I made the mistake of going down Spui street and almost ran into some tourists and almost fell off my bike. Went to a photo exhibit outside the church near where Anne Frank's house is - amazing photos by Stephen Bloom.

I met three new people at the Botanical Gardens the next day and have events to go to this weekend. Friends are coming to visit in the next few weeks. And work is getting better. I may be headed to Papua New Guinea or Nepal in the next month to look at the issue of gender-based violence. Or to Central African Republic although the recent death of a MSF employee there makes that very doubtful.

So - normality approaches. I keep riding that bike to work every day, getting a little more fit and a little more confident each day.

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