How do you find someone who you haven’t spoken to in years, the last number you have for them isn’t valid, the last email you have is bouncing back messages, the last you heard he was in California on top of a mountain and was heading to Russia, and who probably purposefully eschews from online things such as facebook or linkedin (because it’s just his nature to be and not to be online)?
This morning as I biked to the east of Amsterdam to meet friends for the last day of the Amsterdam Imagine Film Festival, I was feeling high on life. The sun was shining, the sky was blue and puffy with clouds, and the music playing blaring through my headphones was drums, drums, drums, great beats that made my heart nearly burst with life. I was so…happy. High. On fire.
A car passed me, a small vintage car with a bride and groom inside. I rang my bell and screamed out “Gefeliciteerd!” into their open window as I passed. I was happy for them, these strangers setting out on a new life together. They laughed and waved back.
The film festival was great and in between the two films, I sat in the sun and had coffee and then wine and good conversation with my friends. Amsterdam has picked up again now that the good weather has finally returned and we have our terraces back. After the last movie, we joined some more friends in the park until the sun was setting and then it was time to head home.
It was maybe ten at night when my mood changed for the worse. I decided to go for a walk to clear my head. The city was packed with people, as you would expect on a Saturday night, and seeing all of those happy people, laughing and drinking and swimming in their cologne just worsened my mood. It was too much of a contrast between me and them.
Each song that came on my headphone was somber and slow and seemed intent on keeping me in this mood, but I admit I also flicked past the happier numbers. I just couldn’t stomach them. I looked into people’s houses and into shop windows, and wondered about who lived here or shopped there. I made mental notes of certain little pubs and cafes that I’d like to go back and try one day.
I searched for something to distract my mind from this funk. Cigarettes? No, didn’t feel right. Maybe a small bottle of vodka to keep me company on my walk? Nah. I passed a coffeeshop and thought about having a joint, but I didn’t feel like paying such close attention to my breathing, which is what happens when I get high. Breathing suddenly becomes a conscious effort, and a loud one at that. I tried to think if I had any way to get anything stronger, but everything seemed to entail more effort than I was willing to spend, and the chances of someone just walking up and offering me something seemed slim (although not improbable).
I texted two friends who might have distracted me, but one was busy and the other didn’t reply. I didn’t text anyone else for fear of further rejection, partly because that’s how I knew I would take it, even if that wasn’t the intention, and partly because I couldn’t think of anyone else that I wanted to burden with my mood. I briefly humoured the idea of chucking my phone into the canal, just because. Because my phone was in my hand and the canal was in front of me, so why not? It was the idea of littering in the canal that stopped me in the end. I would have felt too bad.
I sat down on a bench across the canal from the Westerkerk, propped my feet up on the railing overlooking the water, and just stared up at the steeple for ages crying silently. Cried and cried and cried and made no move to wipe away the tears, because my back was to the street and no one passing could see me anyway.
The songs on my iPod seemed to speak to me personally, somehow knew my situation and knew how to twist the knife. (Fuck you, iPod.) I wondered whose demons I was struggling with. Were they mine or someone else’s? How did I get here? To this day, this life, this mood? I felt an unbearable sadness in my chest, a hollow, empty, choking sadness.
After about 40 minutes I got up and kept on walking, with the vague notion of going to the start of one canal and following it all the way back to the end, of walking until my feet were blistered. On the way to do this I passed a playground by the empty Noordermarkt, and saw that they had swings.
The stroke of midnight saw me swinging barefoot, watching the Westerkerk steeple now in the distance, dipping and rising up-down-up-down over the horizon of the gabled rooftops that are so iconic to Amsterdam. The moon was shining on the rooftops, and I could make out a few stars. The swinging gave me that swoopy feeling that you get in your belly, the same feeling as when a plane takes off or lands, and my mood lifted a bit.
I got a funny text from the friend that was busy, prompting me to reply with a text stating “I smell a blow job coming” which made me laugh and laugh (I was not the soon-to-be blow job giver, just to be clear) and after that it was hard to keep such a heavy mood. The music responded accordingly, and slightly more uplifting songs came on. (Thank you, iPod.)
At one a.m. I was still swinging, despite my toes being numb from the cold and my fingers wrapped in frozen fists around the metal chains. I had found the drug that I was after, and I didn’t want to lose that uplifting, soaring feeling.
It took a lot of effort, but I eventually pulled myself off of the swingset and resumed my walk. I came across a drunk Polish man laying on the sidewalk on the Keizersgracht, but that’s a story for another time. By 2 a.m I was back home, and feeling much better.
I’ve been really hard on myself since that happened. That disaster of an interview.
They asked the question, “Where do you see yourself in five years?”
Typical question, right? You’re supposed to say, “I want to be here, there, and have A, B, and C already accomplished.”
Instead, I said, “Well, I always made plans and they never worked out, so I kind of stopped making plans. I’m just kind of…floating.”
Which is exactly what you are NOT supposed to say. Which is funny, looking back.
But do you know what is even more funny? It’s even more funny because it’s true. I stand by that statement. It’s not wishy-washy. It’s not weak and directionless. It’s ‘roll-with-the-punches’. It’s self-preservation. It’s adaptability.
I have made plans and plans and plans. And at this point in my life, every single one of my plans has not worked out. I keep on rolling with it.
As Pam told me recently, ‘If you had asked me that question 5 years ago, I wouldn’t have said that I would be living in the Netherlands!’ And it’s so true! Five years ago, Amsterdam wasn’t even a thought in my head. Five years ago, in about 2 weeks, the idea would come to me that I wanted to live in Amsterdam. Three weeks later I would have applied to Fashion School. Within two months, an interview and acceptance letter. And within a month after that I was living here. Bam!
I had an epiphany tonight: I’m open to everything that comes my way, I’m open to it all. Throw it at me. If I catch it, then it’s because that’s what I want. If I don’t, then there’s your answer. If it doesn’t work out, it won’t crush me. Lots of things haven’t worked out (including the above mentioned fashion school). I’m not crushed! I’m still here, standing, happy and laughing.
I had one of those days where I woke up in A MOOD. A good mood. An energetic mood. Ready to conquer the world, smash my face into the universe, and STOMP STOMP STOMP!
It seemed like the whole day was shining on life, there was no time for bad thoughts, no time for negativity, just onwards, upwards, STOMP STOMP STOMP!
Ideas for projects were churning ALL DAY LONG, and so many great things happened- both personally and at the two jobs that I have. It was like my karmic juju was finally being repaid.
- A reporter from CNN called the hotel in response to a social media experiment that we started. We were literally jumping for joy.
- A former client sent an email detailing how great she is doing thanks to the online company I work for-it made me so emotional I nearly cried! Seriously, I wish I could share it with you, but for the sake of her privacy I cannot.
- I found this book in my bike basket tonight after work, along with a bag of rubbish and an empty Heineken bottle. A mystery gift? Thank you Mystery Gift Giver!
At first it looks like any normal book….
Title of book: "Oogste der Tijden"
But when you open the cover and flip past the first 40 pages…….the words suddenly stop!
Look Ma no words!
I’m going to draw in it. Lots and lots of pretty pictures. And maybe some ugly ones too. And it will make a lovely place to write down all of these ideas that I am having!
- Everyone I came into contact today was in a happy mood, smiling, laughing, and joking. EVERYONE. OK there was maybe that one jerkhole, but he’s always a jerkhole, and today his jerkiness was kind of funny and endearing too.
- And the stickler of the day. I came home tonight, and up the stairs of my apartment. Balancing iPod, purse, container of tofu, newly gifted mystery book, and another book that I had just that day received in the mail. I struggled for ages at the top of the stairs, rummaging around in my bag looking for my keys, as I do EVERY SINGLE DAY, when I noticed again the book that I was holding, the one that came in the mail today and I had to stop and laugh.
- Oh, and by now we all know that this happened today. WEIRD, huh? You don’t see that everyday. The backlash at the hotel due to stranded passengers was insane.
In other news, the Imagine Film Festival is in town and I have plans to go twice with friends! And this weekend is the very last Club Rascal, ever! An end of an era, I shall be sad to see it go. I spent many a euro on vodka limes on those nights, dancing my ass away into the wee hours of the morning! And I just found out that the Off-Centre Festival is coming up next month.
Come on people let’s get our social hats on! Life suddenly got LIFIER again!
If I had to choose right now between oodles of time and oodles of money, I think I’d have to choose time.
No, time. Definitely time!
Because there are so many things I want to sink my teeth into, things that I feel deserve my attention, and if I only had more time to spare, more hours to focus, more minutes in the day, then maybe I could give these things the attention they deserve? “These things” being people, hobbies, pets, apartment, jobs, etc.
Because the only other option to get through everything is to take loads of speed, and (Hi Mom!!!) I promise that isn’t really a viable option for me.
But the sun has made a sudden appearance and the energy it is giving me is amazing!
…or is that the morning’s energy pill kicking in?
Either way it’s great! I’m re-inspired, I feel alive again after a long tough winter.
In my blog search terms: “cavaliers love licking lotion”
This cracked me up. It’s as if someone had a secret camera in my apartment.
When I get out of the shower and put lotion on my legs, I then have to make sprints around the house to get away from Lola. If I let her, she would lick off every trace of lotion from my ankles to my knees.
It’s gotten to where I really have to think about which lotion I buy, and whether or not it is safe for my dog to eat.
It’s just one of those little known facts that they don’t tell you about in any guides to cavalier ownership.
I’ve been on a bit of a music kick lately. Looking for new songs, looking up old songs that I used to love, songs that remind me of things.
I found Ian Thomas on MySpace years ago, recommended to me by someone who said he was a friend of his. I probably listened to this song daily for months on end.
When I abandoned MySpace to the dust and cobwebs, I unwittingly disconnected my only link to this song and this singer. But the other day, fueled by nostalgia, I logged back into MySpace, and blew away the dust bunnies.
There in my friend’s list I saw Ian Thomas’ profile, and there on his profile, I once again heard this song.
Not losing it this time.
I used to keep an eye on his shows, he played fairly often in the New Jersey area. I thought that if I ever visited to ol’ home turf again, I’d catch one of his shows while I was there. Now I see that he will be in the UK this summer (London and Brighton).
Last night I slept restlessly, in that floating space between deep sleep and wide awake. This happens often when I have to be up early to be at work at seven thirty in the a.m. My mind won’t let me sleep soundly for fear of oversleeping the next morning. Then the whole day today I felt that extreme tired where your eyeballs hurt as if they have been raked over and your nerves are paper thin and the hours can’t pass by fast enough while the work piles up. We’ve all been there.
After a day like this I would normally come home and crash into bed again, but today I fought it with all I had. I didn’t want bed, I wanted something else. Anything else, anything that would stave off the tiredness and stretch the day out longer.
It helped that I had three cups of coffee in my belly by then and the day was sunny and brisk. I put out a call to arms on facebook for company to go have drinks on a terrace somewhere. No one took my bait. Either no one I know in Amsterdam is the least bit spontaneous, or I waited too late to invite the world to have a drink with me.
In the end I found unexpected company and headed out to a bar that I haven’t frequented since those late nights in about the summer of 2006, when I had nowhere to be in the mornings and no fear of hangovers just yet. I miss this bar- the music is good, the ambiance perfect. It was good to be back.
The company I was with was also nostalgic of those very same times, back when things were a little less confusing and everything sparkled a bit brighter. Back when I didn’t know what unexpected turns were coming my way. The conversation flowed easily over a few drinks, and then over dinner and cocktails nearby, and then back to the same haunt because I had forgotten my phone on my seat and we thought we might as well have one for the road while we were there and the night was still young.
We laughed over stupid stories, talked openly about our days, and shared a comfort that is hard to find elsewhere. I even found myself writing down music recommendations on the back of a coaster, just like that night years ago when the thought of Amsterdam was so far away and the night was never not young and the rounds so endlessly flowing. I still have that first coaster saved somewhere, although on the walk home tonight I lost this one.
I remarked that I still had the urge to have a cigarette, and so on the way out he handed me one, and I walked him to his bike. The cigarette felt strange in my hand, funny that something so small and light could feel so foreign and heavy. It wasn’t until we parted ways smiling that I really allowed myself to focus on the cigarette, and I took a deeper drag.
It was a little shocking to me that the first thing that it reminded me of was being 8 years old in the third grade, when myself and two friends of mine would smoke half-gone cigarettes that we would pick off of the ground or from our parents’ ashtrays. We called them ‘doegywows’. I won’t explain how to pronouce that, nor do I remember where the name came from, but it was our code word for cigarettes, and for about a month we fancied ourselves smokers until the trivialities of being 8 years old distracted us and we “quit”.
Halfway home I found myself laughing at the memories, and how a mundane Monday had turned into something much more interesting and unexpected. I also found myself feeling ultra silly over this farce of me smoking. I decided to stub it out, but when I did I realized that I had smoked the whole thing anyway.