This is something that I’ve done for a few years now (which I had taken down, but I just put them back up again here and here), so I might as well keep with tradition.
The year in retrospect…to the tune of the alphabet. One last look back before I can officially look forward.
A- AmandaBlogandKiss- I never expected that my blog would be the best thing to happen to my social life since vodka and lime, but it was. It is. I’ve met tons of great people- people who are also bloggers and who walked off of the computer screen into my real life, and for that I am intensely grateful.
B- Berlin- who knew that Berlin was such a vegan mecca? Certainly not I. This trip was my first time there in years and I saw it in a completely different light. It’s a great place to spend some time, so I’m sure I’ll be back soon!
C- Cologne Christmas Markets- This was a quickie roadtrip weekend trip with friends that I never got a chance to write about because directly afterwards I was struck down with the flu. Foiled! But Angela wrote two great pictorial posts about it: Part One and Two.
Photo by Mats Einarsen
D- Damien- New flatmate in the house! He walks around semi-naked, and yet I am still forbidden from doing so myself. Surely a perfect example of a double standard. He is quiet and unassuming, and we like to pretend that he has women chained up in his bedroom. There must be something wrong with him, no one is this perfect.
E- Ego- My ego took a bashing this year. Poo on me.
F- Flu- I got my very first flu this year! And I handled it like a three year old child. Because I can. So nyah.
G- Glasgow- How lucky am I to have the kind of friends who will whisk me away on a girly weekend in a time of personal crisis, help me shop until my wallet screams, and laugh with me through hungover mornings recounting tales of the night before? VERY lucky, to put it frankly.
H- Hot Chip- one of the best shows I saw all year….although come to think of it this may have been 2008….but I can’t think of anything else for H so it’s staying!
I- Ireland-We took a driving holiday around Ireland in January and saw some sights that I’ve been meaning to get to, like the Kilmainhaim jail in Dublin, the Cliffs of Moher, and the Burren. But what stands out most in my head is when I fell in the mud. Funny how that memory remains above all.
J- Jersey Shore- Yes. Yes I am including the MTV reality show Jersey Shore in my yearly update of the year’s highlights. WHUT.
K- de Koffie Saloon- I drank a boatload of coffee at my neighborhood coffee joint this year, most of the time catching up with friends (Jolanda in particular) and just taking a brief hour out of the day to enjoy good company and good coffee. I’m grateful that I have a place like this so close….although it sucks when you’re trying to give up coffee.
L- London for the Cringe book release- Badow! My ass got published in a book. …and someone else got alll the money for it! This trip was also of note because I saw friends that I haven’t seen in about 7 years, made new friends, and finally met an online friend that I’ve had for about 3 years!
M- Mommers- She moved back to the States. Traitor.
N- the New Tig (Parck)- finally a pub to fill the gaping hole that The Tig Barra left when it closed down well over a year ago. A new local…and they also do cocktails! Tig Barra version 2.0?
O- Overtoom buurt- Just another shout out to the best damn neighborhood in Amsterdam. We’ve got it all here on the Mighty Mighty Overtoom. Why go anywhere else?
P- Prague- A surprise trip for my birthday to Prague! Who’s a lucky girl? (puts hand up)
Q- Quiz Night- could very well be the best thing to happen to Monday nights since…forever? Our team has grown from 6 people to about 14, and we always win. ALWAYS. Here’s to The Incontinentals! In this photo are Mats, Angela, John, me, and Andrew.
Photo by Lissa!
R- Roadtrips! – From Medemblik here in the Netherlands, to Germany, to Belgium, this year saw me wrack up a lot of kilometers in the (rental) car. Which is astounding because before that I haven’t driven or even been in a car in a few years. Viva la bike culture! But sometimes cars are nice. Here is a photo from when Jolanda drove us to her hometown of Medemblik.
S- Shoulder- This marked the start of my ill fortunes. I woke up one day to a right arm that wouldn’t work, no matter how hard my brain demanded it. This lasted for over a month, leaving me helpless as a baby and totally sympathetic to one-armed people the world over.
T- Tourists- I hit one with my bike. He had it coming. But I was the one who got hurt. First knee scrape since I was about 10 years old. Now my pretty battle scar. I still feel bad about screaming at him from where I lay on the cold pavement, twisted under my bike. But in fairness, why the hell can’t tourists stay off of the bike path, or at least look before crossing one?
U- Unemployment- Had a job, didn’t have a job, got another job, lost that job, didn’t have a job, got another job. Now I’m quite happy with my job! (Did you follow that?)
V- Hotel V- This, of course, being the job that I am quite happy with. Great people, awesome atmosphere! Nothing to complain about!
W- Work at Lush- The job that I had for 6 months and then lost because my face looked sad and I was too old. WAY TO MAKE A WOMAN FEEL SPECIAL LUSH! Still…I fucking love their products. And sorely miss that staff discount!
X- ex flatmate Veronica- The Lakester was back in town for a few weeks this summer and it was like the good old days again! Here she is on my birthday, drunk as a skunk and chatting to John.
Y- Y…Why is Y always so hard to think of something for?
Z: Other things of note this year: Facebook (and a LOT of it). Friends (some faded into the background, others stepped out of the woodwork). Nearly got in a fight at the Florence and the Machine concert. Dancing at the Passion Pit show. GMail Chat.
Well here is 2009 drawing to a close. I’ve been looking back at the lists and plans I had for this year, and you know what? That really hurts to do.
Because somewhere around the May mark, all my plans and hopes for myself and this year kind of were blown out of the window. Not my fault. So I spent the better part of this year crying and learning (for once in my life) that life can be so very, very unfair.
How bad does it suck that people can walk into your life, rip it to shreds, shit on your face*, and then you have to live with the debris? I can tell you: it sucks a fat one. A big fat, fatty ol’ fat one.
But you’ve heard this all before, you’ve (maybe) been with me through the rough bits, and for that I thank you. So I’ll spare the recap and just say instead that every black cloud has a silver lining. One horrible, stinking SUCKY year in 30 ain’t bad, after all.
And there is something to be said for having the world around you torn down and destroyed. Because it means that you have the opportunity to rebuild again, starting over fresh. Blank canvases and all that. A bit exciting really, if you think about it.
So coming out of this year feels like coming up from the bottom of the ocean when you’ve been underwater diving for shells for way too long. Your lungs are about to burst and you hit the surface and take that deep, deep, deep breath- what it must be like when you are born fresh from the womb and you take the first breath that you will ever take. Man that must be a great feeling.
So out I burst from 2009, gasping for air and enjoying the sunshine on my face and the calming bob of the ocean.
Or, if you prefer the birth metaphor, out I burst from the dark womb of 2009, covered in uterus lining and choking on placenta water.
No….that just doesn’t work does it?
2010 will be, by sheer comparison to its predecessor, a fucking amazing year. On top of that, this is the year that I turn 30, so I have a few plans up my sleeve that will make it a major year for me.
So onwards, upwards, and tally ho! 2010, I’ve been waiting for you!
*Not literally, mind you. Although from my blog search terms you would actually think that that is exactly what I’ve been blogging about this year. Seriously, why all the searches for scat, people? That’s sick.
Today will be long and drawn out, and full of the tedious tedium that Monday mornings usually bring. While dealing with the usual hectic client problems and endless phone calls, your to-do list will grow monstrous while your mind drifts between thoughts of what specific goals you want to achieve in the new year to wondering if you left the hair straightener plugged in this morning and whether or not the apartment block will still be standing when you get there. Most of the day will be spent on the verge of starvation, not because of famine or poverty, but simply because you are too lazy to go and get some food. On the plus side, it is only a one-cup-of-coffee kind of day. On the negative side, didn’t you give up coffee last week? Drats. Try again next week, loser.
The best place to go on Boxing Day is into the pub, so into the pub we went.
Just after saying our hello’s (I used to work here) and ordering my cider, I saw that there was a family of Italians at the table across from us. With them was a little girl, maybe 5 years old, coloring on placemats.
At another nearby table was an English and Dutch couple, with a little 4 year old girl who started twirling in the middle of the floor.
After awhile, lured by the twirling, the little Italian girl made her way over to the Dutch girl, and tried to talk to her. The Dutch girl stopped twirling and looked confused, eyes darting over to her mother and father. When she got no response, the little Italian girl turned back to her family’s table, and in typical Italian style shurgged her shoulders at them.
“NON CAPISCE MAMA.” she said in her Italian-in-training loud voice. “She doesn’t understand!”
I struggled to keep my giggles hidden while watching all of this, enjoying every second of the interaction.
After some conferring with her family, the little Italian girl tried again. She walked over to the little Dutch-English girl.
“Hallo. What eees yooouuurrr neeeeeem?” she tried.
Still no response from the Dutch-English girl, who- being raised in the colder northern European climates- was simply not used to this kind of warmth from strangers. The little Italian girl, however, thrived on it.
Not so easily deterred, she tried to hold the little Dutch girl’s hand, but the little Dutch girl pulled away and ran to her mother’s side, burrowing her head in her lap. Well and truly defeated, the little Italian girl moved on to the English father and started prattling away to him in Italian, oblivious to the fact that he couldn’t understand her.
Just a little slice of micro-culture in the pub on Boxing Day. They may be mini-versions of Europeans, but the social interactions were pretty much spot-on.
And damn. I wish I would have been in Paradiso to see it live in 2005. Hang on past the 5 minute and 45 second mark on that second video. I promise it’s worth it. This is the kind of show that I love, and yet rarely find.
Why do I feel like a pariah when I admit in the first few days of a snowfall that I actually hate snow, well and truly detest it?
Everyone else seems too quick to forget the cold fingers and toes, the icy falls on slippery sidewalks, and the stinging snowflakes in the eyes during the spring, summer and autumn months, so that when the first big snowfall arrives (like it did last night) they are all “ooohh, aaaahhh SNOW!”
I hate it. The weather shouldn’t be so painful.
Give everyone else a day or two and they’ll all come around. It’s only a matter of time.
I haven’t seen ‘Into The Wild‘ yet, but it’s been on my list since it was in the cinema. In a roundabout way tonight, I found out that Eddie Vedder made the entire soundtrack in his first ever solo work while taking a break from Pearl Jam. He played every instrument in every song, which proves to me (as if I needed proof of his genius) that he is one of our generation’s best artists.
I gave it a listen and the entire album has a decidedly laid back Americana folk vibe to it. This song in particular stuck out for me.
A few years ago I saw Pearl Jam at the Rock Werchter festival, where they played one of the songs from this soundtrack, as well as countless songs from my high school years. Their show was definitely the highlight of the weekend for me. At the risk of sounding like a starstruck fan, Eddie Vedder just…had this presence. He was chatty on stage and really gracious to his audience, and I couldn’t have asked for a better show.
Back at the campsite, I mentioned to my friend’s brother how awesome that show was, and he kind of looked perplexed.
“You know…” I said, “Pearl Jam.”
“Oh yeah, I’ve heard of them before but like…I wouldn’t know any of their songs.”
My jaw dropped before I realized that this kid was about 18. Of course he doesn’t know Pearl Jam. He was probably born the year the band formed.
Yeah…that was a flu preparing to scissor kick me in the groin and pin me down in a chokehold. I’ve been tired before but never so tired that it physically hurt so bad, so that should have been my first warning.
But if there’s anything I’ve discovered about myself, it’s that I have yet to catch on to the subtle (and downright obvious) hints that my body gives when things are not right. I tend to go “Hm. That’s different.” and ignore it until I’m hunched over the toilet sink at 6:30 am spewing bile and crying because I have to be in work in an hour and I can’t even stand up straight, or stop hurting enough to brush my teeth.
Also, (men: please skip the next paragraph, thanks) even after 15 years of being a card-carrying member of the menstruating half of the world (our slogan: “The Few, The Proud, The Menstruators”), I still don’t recognize the signs: “Wow, is it just me or did my boobs grow overnight? (Here I normally cup and heft my boobs in the mirror, turning from side to side to admire them.) Day-um they look good. And I feel a heightened sense of sexuality. Let’s get it on! …oh wait…let’s not. Let’s wait 5 to 7 days, shall we?“ It’s like every month I am tricked into thinking the boob fairy has magically gifted me a cup size. Just because she loves me.
So anyway this flu kicked me in the ass, and 5 days later I’m just starting to get over it. I missed one day of work and then bravely (read: stupidly) went in the next day. It turned out to be a very busy day and I felt like I was drunk the entire time, weak and dizzy as I was. Everytime the phone rang (which was constantly) I had the urge to answer it with a growl and a snarl, and then just hang up. Thankfully (and not that surprisingly) they gave me the rest of the week off so I spent it in bed, sweating out the fever and staring at the wall when I got bored with sleeping.
I believe this was my first ever flu. I think, because I am so rarely sick, that when I do fall ill I probably take it worse than your average person who gets sick 2 or 3 times a year. Had I been a pro at this getting sick malarky I may have toughened up a bit, but instead I let it get to me emotionally. Physically, it had already knocked me over, dragged me down the road, and left me for dead under a streetlight on an empty corner. Emotionally, it temporarily took away my will to live for anyone or anything but myself.
I didn’t want to speak to anyone. I didn’t want to look at anyone. I didn’t want to watch anything on TV. I didn’t want to communicate with anyone online. I wanted my dogs to get the hell away from me, not lay on top of me, not make me sweat with their warmth and closeness. I didn’t want to OWN anything that I own. I wanted to put every possession of mine in a box and burn it in an incinerator. I wanted to quit my jobs, say fuck it to every bill that is collecting on my desk, and just lay in bed all day staring.
Until I got better.
I’m a bit better now so I see how foolish that all sounds, but I think the root of all of it was that I didn’t want to be or feel responsible for anything but myself, didn’t want to answer to anyone but my aches and pains and fever chills. I reverted back to true child status: me, me, me, me LEAVE ME ALONE NO WAIT GET ME A POPSICLE FIRST AND THEN LEAVE ME ALONE.
I’m slowly getting back to my (grown-up) self, but the residual negative energy from my sickness has inspired me to unclutter my life and so right now half of the contents of the kitchen cabinets is in bags ready to be thrown out.
So take that, influenza! I took your lemons and made them into motherfuckin’ lemonade.
While I sit here and weep from exhaustion, let me show you some links that are good!
Follow the links! The links are your friends! (actually in most cases they are my friends, but I can share.)
- Post Secrets has an awesome video up of people actually telling their secrets that will make you tear up and maybe give you some chills. If you miss it at that link you can also find it here. Both of the secrets told by the couple to eachother made me gasp out loud (GOL?).
- Andrew of Former Flatmate Fame has started a blog about TV shows, named after my special nickname for him when he lived here and would control the TV for me, something I find sort of tedious and too technical (shaddup). Since he is extremely funny and witty, you should all go there and maybe if he gets enough interest he will post a SECOND post! Now wouldn’t that be like Christmas has arrived early!!! (PS- Tell him Large Marge sent you!)
- Pam is an expat blogger here in the Netherlands who I recently had the pleasure of meeting over a bagel and a cawfee (pronounced like that because we are from New York and New Jersey). She is trying to win a trip to Korea, and damnit you are all going to help her! Please follow this link, click on ‘Applicant Details’ next to ‘Pam Wants to Sell Her Seoul’ and then give her 5 stars! Lather, Rince, and Repeat again tomorrow! Thanks! Here’s hoping you win Pam!!
- An old friend from high school is trying to win the bid to be the next XFX girl, so if you’re on Facebook and want to help, please become a fan here and VOTE ELISSA!
- This post from My Defective Life really hit home with me. I’ve been having mortality….shall we say….issues lately. In fact a lot of what My Defective Life talks about hits home with me, sometimes to the point of freaking me out (is she IN MY BRAIN?). Plus she gets mega brownie points for being a horror movie buff. And talkin’ rauchy. And being a vegan.
- And last but not least please keep your eyes peeled for the Strawberry Earth Hotel Crash coming up in January! Tickets for the party and the rooms will be on sale soon! This is a great chance to party like a rockstar, stay at the extremely fancy Hotel V (not just sayin’ that because I’m biased- I promise) and make an eco difference! Yes yes yes! Plan your trips to Amsterdam now, and if you already live here treat yourself to a night in at a nice hotel, party the night before and breakfast the morning after all included! You just can’t beat that.