Sunday, August 26, 2007

Sunday Lovely Sunday

Now that the “Housing Drama” is over, my life in Amsterdam has changed for the better! I love my new apartment – its big, airy, sunny, and beautiful. Simon is happy although he misses the little balcony we had off the kitchen where he could stare at the pigeons and lie in the sun. He’ll find something new, I think – he seems to be enjoying the large sunny windowsills. I also bought him some cute turquoise cat food bowls with little fish on them to cheer him up.

Most places in Amsterdam are closed on Sundays but down on Kalverstraat in the tourist district, most of the stores are open. Since I actually have an apartment now and don’t have to worry, I can settle into normality and run errands! Saturdays are when I go to the market so Sunday, I headed down there this morning to pick up some rain pants. Winter is coming and although I have moved closer to the office – I will still have to cycle through several months of cold rain to get to work. Someone recommended the Hema to me so I stopped in. I discovered the Dutch version of Target – the HEMA!

I walked out of the store with the aforementioned rain pants, but also a photo frame, a tank top, some hair clips, some lights for my bike, a few organizer shelves for my new home office, and a bottle of wine! All for about 20 euros! I am hooked! There are some super cute duvet covers for sale there and I can pick up a feather duvet and they have an excellent bath goods section! Anyway, I think I’ve found a new favorite store to make errands running more exciting!

And even more exciting – there is a pretty decent thai takeaway one block from my new apartment! Sundays have never seemed so normal.

Monday, August 13, 2007

New Apartment Pics!

The Bedroom (love that Orange)

The Study off the living room:

View from the Kitchen into the living room and out into the balcony:

The Kitchen:

Other amenities - a lovely bathroom with a large tub that looks out onto a garden. No waterheater above the bed to disturb my sleep! A small balcony that looks out onto the street (not ideal) but big enough for flower boxes and maybe a tree! A much larger toilet than the 'marble tomb' from my current place. A small sunroom off the bedroom that looks out onto the garden.
Home sweet home.

Housing Woes

Oh the housing woes I've had.
  • May 15: Found an apartment through a woman who was moving away from Amsterdam. Took the apartment.
  • May 25: Cable tv that is included in rent is turned off for lack of payment.
  • May 26: Called Housing Agency, they said call Housing Management Service, Called them. "We'll take care of it."
  • For the next five weeks, call housing agencies periodically to find out why cable tv not working - told that its taken care of, not their responsibility, can't turn it back on, not their responsibility, taken care of, etc. Every call gets a different answer. Finally, it turns out that the cable company won't turn it back on because the owner has been delinquent in paying the bill before.
  • July 1: Get notice from owner of apartment that the "makelaar"needs to come look at it.
  • July 9: Makelaar informs me that the apartment is going up for auction in October because owner hasn't paid the mortgage.
  • July 10: Contact owner who tells me not to worry. I worry.
  • July 17: Get notice that the bank/tax man is coming to seize all the goods inside the apartment. Really start to freak out.
  • July 18: Seek legal advice. Told that I can't stay there because he wasn't allowed to rent it in the first place.
  • August 1: Contact owner who says - don't pay August rent and I'll reimburse September rent as the deposit.
  • August 7: My current housing agency tries to tell me that there are NO apartments in my price range and that it is illegal for them to try to show me any because I make TOO MUCH MONEY (!!)
  • August 7: Find a new apartment in my price range, thanks to networking with friends. Its cute, bigger than my current place, and with a MUCH nicer toilet but not a balcony on the back - balcony faces street.
  • August 9: I try to put down the deposit - although I can't get the keys until August 14, if I want the apartment, I have to pay the rent from August 10 on.
  • August 9: Realize I didn't inform them that I have a cat.
  • August 9 - 12 worry that they will withdraw apartment, decide to be honest and tell them.
  • August 13: All is well! I pick up the keys tomorrow and move in on the 15th.
I just thank my lucky stars and my fabulous friends and family who supported me through all this. If it weren't for you guys, I would have just shriveled up, moved back to Sumter, and got a job at the CVS next to my father's house. With the notable exception of one so-called friend who decided to kick me when I was down, I've been so amazed and thankful at the kindness I've received. Thank you all! Next up - photos of the new place.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Taking a Break

I've got the week off in Amsterdam which is nice because the weather has been spectacular. A few people have commented that i seem to be having a lot of ups and downs. That's definately true. In the relief world, we talk about the five lifesaving needs: food, water, shelter, hygiene, and healthcare. Some of those have been threatened in the past month making me extremely anxious. The coping mechanisms don't seem to be working like they used to. But having Alec, my bestest buddy and concrete wall of support, visit me for three days makes me feel renewed and in love with this city again.

While i don't want to bore with the particulars, here's the goods and the bads of three months in Amsterdam.

  • Exploring the city on my bike - remembering what it felt like in the pre-car days of zipping through the streets at night with the wind in your hair.
  • Cool restaurants, bars, cafes, parks, museums, and galleries - definately a wonderful city
  • Meeting new people - meeting my new Dutch friends and other expats
  • Renewing friendships with old friends and their kids.
  • Being challenged at work - meeting really dedicated people who are working under hard conditions to help others. feeling proud whenever I tell someone where I work and they react positively - I'm learning new things almost every day which is good.
  • Losing some weight from exercising and feeling healthy
  • Long summer evenings
  • Riding small boats around on the canals drinking wine with friends
  • Very good inexpensive wine in the grocery stores
  • Great cheese everywhere
  • Fabulous breads
  • The option of taking a boat ferry for a commute!

  • Mosquitos - the Dutch mosquitos are the only ones in the world that have ever bitten me.
  • Being awakened at 3am by my neighbors fighting, a mosquito buzzing in my ear, the water heater over my bed cycling on and off constantly, and simon chasing the mosquito - falling asleep at 5am and having to awaken at 5:3oam to ride to the train station in the pouring rain.
  • 50 degrees and July.
  • Learning that I will probably be evicted from my apartment in October so having to do the apartment hunt all over again but in August when everyone is on vacataion - fear of being tossed out on the street with my cat.
  • The office politics of where I work - lots of french male egos and obscure regulations
  • Dealing with new systems for the daily life (bank, travel, health care, shopping)
  • Being in a whole different timezone from my family and friends
  • Feeling like noone here really understands me yet - still constantly in small talk mode.
  • Feeling anxious to prove myself at work and do something worthwhile but afraid of running afoul of all the egos and the obscure work regulations and inadvertently causing a negative reputation.