It’s been quiet round yonder blog lately, and for this I am sorry. But I couldn’t let New Year’s Eve slip by without a little alphabetical trip down memory lane (just as I did in 2006, 2007, and 2009…..but not in 2008- that was a bad year).
So here goes, blog readers, if you’re still out there….
A- Amsterdam. Always. Although after 5 years, there is a certain element of love-hate going on, but that’s bound to happen with any long-term relationship. But there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t stop for at least a nano-second and think, “Damn. I’m so lucky to live here.”
B- Brussels. This year I made a long-awaited (by myself alone) and triumphant (that’s debatable) return to Brussels, my home for 5 years, where I proceeded to drink for the entire duration of my 2 night and 3 day stay. Because let’s face it: The Belgians are drinkers, and Brussels is made for it, with a slew of awesome bars. At the end of one long night of drinking, we went into a wine bar that I used to love. Reinforced by lots of alcohol, I suddenly remembered all of that French that I have since again forgotten. “OU EST LA GRANDE TETE?!”* I screeched to the waitress, ordered a fruit wine, and passed out facedown on Dave’s lap after one sip. What’s French for “embarrassed”? That was Dave that night.
(* The question of “Where is the big head?” didn’t come out of nowhere. There used to be a large man-sized marble statue of a head as soon as you walked into the place, and it was gone. So it was a valid question….had I asked it with my “inside voice” and with less of an alcoholic slur. But of course I didn’t.)
C- Christmas Dinner. This recent Christmas dinner was one of the loveliest I have spent abroad. We were a group of 5 nationalities from literally every corner of the world: United States, Ireland, England, South Africa and Indonesia and our dinner of choice was a 7 course meal at the very lovely (and I do recommend it) ENVY. They were kind enough to make my 7 courses vegan, and I repaid that kindness by getting very drunk on their lovely wine and probably laughing louder than is appropriate in such a fancy-schmancy place. But I couldn’t help it: the conversation was lovely.
D- Dentist. Four trips to the dentist in four weeks. UGH. My dentist didn’t hold back on the guilt trip when I walked into her office after a 3 year absence. I’m officially caught up. Don’t have to go back now til…..2014. (I jest!)
E- Ethel. I lost a dear family member this past autumn, and was fortunately able to join my family back in New Jersey when we gathered for her viewing. It was a bittersweet reunion, going back for a funeral. Lovely seeing everyone, but obviously horrible to gather under the circumstances. It messed with my head, to be frank.
F- Fourth of July. I was lucky to be back in the States again for my first Fourth of July in a decade. I spent it with my parents and a good friend in Washington DC, and I’m not gonna lie…a tear may have been shed. I’m a sucker for a good parade.
G- Guests. We have had lots of famous guests at the hotel this year, which has made the job both more challenging and more fun. My favorite: Weird Al Yankovic. My least favorite: ….OK I’m not going to say, since that’s not fair to THAT FAMOUS FASHION PHOTOGRAPHER ON THAT FAMOUS FASHION TV SHOW. Ahem.
H- Hotel. I never thought I would want to work in a hotel, but it’s been the single best thing about this year. Honestly and truly, not just saying that because my boss might read this. I find it challenging, interesting, fast-paced, and fun. I don’t think you can ask for more in a job.
I- Ireland. Went to Ireland this year. You know….like the last 5 years…..
J- Josh Ritter. Saw Josh Ritter in concert again. You know….like the last 5 years….
K- This has nothing to do with a K but I couldn’t think of any K. My friend (of Glasgow trip fame) took me to a monkey sanctuary for my birthday. It was such a brilliant day out! She’s so good at gifts. This is the two of us taking a break from all the monkeys:
L- Lola. And now for a bit of sadness in my end-of-year wrap-up. My Lola dog is stepping into old age, and this has meant many trips to the animal hospital this past month, much poking and prodding and jabbing, medicines and strict instructions. But she’s taking it like a champ, and I love her for it.
M- Mallorca. Saw beautiful scenery, and swam in amazing waters. Actually that was pretty much the extent of the trip: drank, swam and drove. I was on the beach of Mallorca at the stroke of midnight when I turned 30 this year.
N- Nightswimming. What I was doing on the beach just 15 minutes before the stroke of midnight when I turned 30 this year. There’s a story behind this. I’ll save it for another time.
O- Owen Pallet. Thanks to a friend’s recommendation I went to see Owen Pallet in a really different, but neat venue here in Amsterdam.
P- Portugal. A very dear friend got married in Portugal this October, and I was lucky enough to attend, and extremely lucky enough to be her Maid of Honor. It was held in a beautiful old hotel in Sintra, just outside of Lisbon, and the whole wedding party was a really fun group of people. As the maid of honor, my hardest job was the maid of honor speech. (And if Angela is reading this right now, she’s rolling her eyes because she knows what is coming next.) I was so nervous about the speech (I was last and everyone else’s speeches were great), but I nailed it. Over the bleachers, out of the ball park, home run baby. And that’s when I realized that maybe, just maybe, I have inherited some of my mother’s public speaking genes after all. For my speech, I dedicated this song to the bride and groom:
Q- Qan’t think of anything for Q!
R- Raw Detox. I did a strict 3 week raw detox this August, and it was the best 3 weeks of the year in terms of how I felt mentally and physically. I would (and do) recommend it to anyone. I felt fantastic.
S- Social Media. I no longer believe in the power of Twitter.
T- Trips to States. As I mentioned already, I took two trips to the States this year. One road trip with a friend, and the other due to a death in the family. I saw friends that I haven’t seen in 10 years, and even one that I hadn’t seen in 20! I also spent more time with my grandparents than I have in the past 10 years combined. Both times I reconnected with people that I love, and both times it was hard to leave to come back home to Amsterdam. When times are hard in Amsterdam (and they often are), I always think how easy it would be to pick up and move back to the States. And then I remember where I am living and why, and that a ticket to the States is about 600 euro. Why live there when I can visit?
U- Unsocial. A lot of this year I have felt very anti-social. Will try and change that next year.
W- World Cup. I started off the World Cup very cynical and uninterested (see blog post about it), but when it came down to the line I was at the edge of my seat and very upset that I wasn’t home in Amsterdam for the finale (I was heading to the airport in New Jersey). Who knew that I would get hooked? I certainly didn’t see it coming. Luckily it’s not for another 4 years, I don’t have time for that ish every week.
X-Y-Z- And the extras:
SAIL 2010…an event that comes to Amsterdam once every 5 years. Hundreds of ships dock in Amsterdam for a 4 day festival. At night on a little boat in the middle of all these old wooden ships, while fireworks burst above you and you’re enjoying a drink with good company. Man, there’s just nothing better.
late night walks around the city and a certain swing set in the Jordaan….
a last-minute one night trip to Prague to deliver a package….
the Halloween costumes that my mother sent over for my dogs….
the Thanksgiving that wasn’t, Wednesday night mojitos with John at Suzy Wong’s, getting closer with some friends while letting others go, still more people that I’ve met this year, lots of fun events at Hotel V, reoccuring insomnia, and many nice meals.
I guess it’s been an interesting year.
Happy New Year everyone! Best of luck, love and happiness in 2011!