October 24, 2012

I FEEL THE YEAR ENDING

The last few days of October make me think a lot about productivity. This seems to happen a lot whenever a year is about to end. Sometimes I wish I had a better way of organizing my thoughts. S. is gone all day and I am trying to organize the paragraphs and index cards with first drafts and unfinished characters for my first novel. Today is the day of fives. 5 new books to read on my desk. 5 big glasses of juice. Day 5 of my 8-day juice cleanse. 5 days until I will try to make my first efforts for NaNoWriMo...

Not a bad thing, a very good thing perhaps, is that I am trying to prepare for an intensive few November weeks. Because November is National Novel Writing Month. Positive thinking and discipline are going to be my two best friends now. Hittin' the gym hard.

The past few days I've shown great fortitude, given that my stomach keeps growling, wanting food, wanting CRUMBS cupcakes, favorably red velvet in maxi size. But sometimes you have to make sacrifices for a better outcome. I've been thinking a lot about my own will power and my abilities to get what I want if I keep my mind set on all the good things. Good things like: finish writing a book, knitting a scarf, graduating college, getting an apartment in Leiden or Den Haag, save up more money for a new computer and preferably go on a vacation within Europe within the next 12 months. These are some good goals and they seem achievable. What keeps me from being successful? The past? The present? Certainly not the future. Insecurities? Missed chances? Irrelevant thoughts and irrational decision-making? All of them, I presume. Here we go again. Do you feel that too, or is it just me? I look up to my role models. I look up to myself at times, something I should do more often. Now I am craving some mousse au chocolat. Early Wednesday morning pep talk to myself - dizzy dreams of the near future.








October 14, 2012

AUTUMN IN AMSTERDAM

When words seem adrift, during the sentimental and rainy days of autumn in Amsterdam, all that can help is a picture book of curiosities. I found myself wandering my neighborhood, the Spaarndammerbuurt, to find lost treasures on sidewalks, shadows in puddles and characters in other people's windows, which helped me get a bit closer with this still strange seeming city I live in. These changes that happen impulsively, I move from here to there without a plan, why is my life this way, why am I one of those people? But it's not all bad. I can make friends with things. Trees. Geese. Cats behind glass. No problem. What's your story?





Here I am, wearing my grandmother's black gardening shoes, disguised as rain boots, it works, but as it gets colder, I can feel my toes disagreeing with this sort of dress up. I ordered some cheap heels online. I keep reminding myself...40 Euros down the drain. What if they don't fit or look ugly? I guess I can always send them back. I think about money a lot. It is my only obstacle.

Window shopping.





People like to put things and flowers in their windows around here. It's a nice thing to look at, something I didn't notice until I walked by a third, fourth, fifth time. Little kingdoms. Not much space here. You have to make it extra nice and cozy to get a home out of it.

Old people must live on the ground floor. They need their gear to get around.



I look up, I look down. I look to my left. I see things I didn't see before. The city is bigger than this. I feel comfortable in my neighborhood. Someone got beat up in broad daylight the other day, across from the supermarket. I haven't seen that since Brooklyn. It scared me a bit but then I saw people helping and the police investigating. It wasn't dismissed but taken seriously. Sacha said he never saw someone get beat up before around here. Maybe I do bring the misery with me wherever I go? How ridiculous does that sound? I am the root of all evil happening around me.






And then I miss my cat. Everybody has a cat around here. My street has geese.




One block north, two blocks West, not much, just a few houses, a few windows, a few people wet from the rain. But then again, all these small things I notice and take pictures of, why? For this blog? Maybe. Or maybe because I need a verification that this place isn't as bad as I think it is. Just because it rains all the time doesn't mean I am not welcome. This is not East London. This is just Amsterdam. Amsterdam would never do me any harm.

* * *


He sits there with his greasy hair, on the kitchen table. I like our life together. I like our life together here. Maybe it would be different somewhere. New York City, where we both hated our lives. Maybe that is why we didn't find each other back then, although we said 'Hi!' oh so many times. It's not always easy, and I remember that things happen for a reason. Zucchini soup for dinner, for example. New things. Mousse au chocolate in our fridge. I make things. Simple things. They make me happy. The future is brighter than I sometimes make it out to be. Fatalism is my weakness. I will get over it.

* * *

TO BE CONTINUED ...


September 20, 2012

SUPERHERO BUREAUCRACY

[DAY 15 IN AMSTERDAM] 

In an attempt to save the world, our common superhero usually catches a few scratches. I slipped off my bike pedal today, but no one saw it when I rolled off the bike path into a creek of duckweed. The ducks were too terrified of my human size to start nibbling at me, so they quacked for a bit and drifted into other directions. I was slightly wet. But to get registered in a new country you need to overcome these kind of obstacles. Nothing is easy and you do need to eat shit sometimes, because it is all that they give you, otherwise you would starve. But enough with the metaphors, the truth is that I am a stranger in a strange new land. What are my options?
I am a European citizen, that is something you know about me now. I enjoy the advantages my Europeanity Europeness Europeism Europpp  EU citizenship entails. I was an enemy of the state when I went to the United States a few years back. Not in a dangerous criminal kind of way. But if you go to the US as anything other than a tourist, you become THE ENEMY.

Compared to the duckweed incident earlier today, my first few weeks in New York City were an utter solitary nightmare. You are dependent on the system, yet the system is not dependent on you. It worked fine before you got there, and then when you leave it moves on as well. Your existence is a web of counterrevolutionary nonentities. You have no power. It's not the fact that I got mugged by a gang of underage crack addicts right in front of my house (where on other occasions I witnessed gang violence at its finest when somebody threw a bicycle at another person). It's also not the fact that I once got blackmailed by a flamboyant, unsuccessful actor with a bartending job who stole my identity. The citizens I encountered on my journey through New York are a different story. What kept me from becoming an accepted human being in the USA is the endless inane paperwork one needs to fill out and provide just to even walk one step on US soil. And I think that customer service employees yelling at me and connecting me to infinite loops of Old McDonald Had a Farm played their parts... There is a presumptuous emptiness to the bureaucratic hubris that this pseudo-democratic country exhibits to foreigners. I don't understand how I managed to survive those three years without ever biting the grass.

I walked into the tax office in Amsterdam today. I waited for about four minutes until I was called to the counter window, where I had to show my passport and fill out one (!) simple form. I had to wait three more minutes until my name was called to pick up my tax number. It took me 8 minutes total of being physically present in the building and it didn't cost me a penny. Now I can get a bank account, a gym membership, a phone contract, everything I need to start my life in the Netherlands. I never had any of those things in New York. I surely could have had those things, but to get there I would have had to jump through a bunch of burning hoops, and I am not that athletic. To have all these things, you must be rich, and a risk taker, and you must not care about being screwed over by government employees who speak worse English than you. One must think they do this for their own personal pleasure. There is no sense in it. US bureaucracy is the true enemy. Foolish games.


I fell of my bike today,because it is wet in Amsterdam, especially in September. My ass got some duckweed stains, that's fine. I managed to take my first successful steps into becoming an accepted person in this country, as somebody who can't be fooled, somebody who takes bureaucracy for what it is... assumed the bureaucracy I am fighting does have its intended purpose...




July 21, 2012

SUGAR BABY

You can make a mistake over and over again and not learn from it. It happened to me, and it keeps on happening. I am aware of the things I do oh so wrong, but the damage I do seems inevitable, most likely I am doomed to be a sad old cat lady in a one bedroom apartment of a grey suburban town.
Aside from that, I am in love again, and this time everything makes sense. I am crossing the canal every other day. Mundane walks through wet grass. Never more than twenty degrees, too cold of a Summer. What did I do wrong this time? Maybe it is because I am home. Home was never a good place for me to be happy. I am 25 years old, and still waiting for my own home. A place that I made, not a place someone else made for me. I am not close to any of that. Give me another year, I'd say. Uncertainty is one of my true enemies. I started baking again.




March 18, 2012

DON'T STOP CREEPING IN MY DREAMS, MELANCHOLY

Melancholy is a good thing.

I woke up freezing. The heater didn't turn on last night and now I have this pain in my throat as if I had smoked a pack of cigarettes before I went to sleep. I was unsure of how much longer I could wake up like this, and wished for the late winter to faster turn into spring to turn into summer. I know that time is precious but how am I going to cherish time, if it's doing a bad job at giving me anything to work with?

Melancholy is a good thing.

Last night in my dream, a strange man came up to me at the corner of a small Via Italia, probably in Rome, and he asked me for some money so he could buy flowers for his girlfriend. I gave him 50 US Dollars. "Puttana!" he yelled, and ripped the $50 bill apart. I saw the little pieces of that bank note falling from the sky and it turned into rain. I was standing there for a few seconds, until I was soaking wet.

Melancholy is a good thing.

I need to keep dreaming. I sometimes feel disconnected from reality in the most peculiar ways. I recently built a whole treehouse somewhere in the southwest of Italy and moved all my things into it. I have flowers growing on the walls. And the bed sheets are so white, that when the sun shines through the little skylight above it, the whole room glows like glitter markers, and in the near distance I can hear cowbells.

Melancholy is a good thing.

I woke up in a movie theater. I had been staying there for a few nights, because I lost my apartment. I would wake up early, before the film projectionists would come in and set up the movies in their little cabin above the last row. I would creep around under the seats and eat stale popcorn. One day I didn't wake up in time, and people were storming inside the hall to see "La Boum". Someone kicked me off my seat and I watched the first five minutes of the movie standing by the door. Then I woke up again and I was in my bed.

Melancholy is a good thing.





February 19, 2012

LOST TREASURES

So at 1.03 AM on February 19th 2012 I decided to eat a whole pack of peanut butter M&Ms and contemplate about the things that surround me. Two days before your 25th birthday, a lot of things really stop to make sense, and other things start to make a lot of sense. For example, the fact that I write  a lot started to make great sense. It's the only way I can live. Whether it is a song or a story or a rather bad drawing with an awkward description, its very much all I am. There are a few other things that make sense. Like pistachio ice cream. Or fried bananas. 

Last week I saw somebody wash their MetroCard at the laundromat.






I thought that was sweet. That way they can re-use it without having to worry about Bed-Stuy germs in their jeans back pocket. But Brooklyn doesn't make sense. There is nothing beautiful about it during the Winter. It is just senseless. Hot ciders, heating blankets, a sketchbook, those things can make it better. You know what I'm talking about.





These strolls along the river make me think. I am silent. Sometimes I talk to the squirrels or the various birds that hang out under the Manhattan Bridge. They know me there. Some of them even call me by my name. "Anna, you seem out of it today", they wonder. "Don't worry", I say, "I am fine!"...



Sometimes I find angels on the street. I wonder where they come from. Who lost this angel? Who would purposefully lose an angel?




One must never stop wondering.



January 22, 2012

RIVER PHOENIX WITH LONG HAIR


I decided that River Phoenix with long hair is better than River Phoenix with short hair. Back in the day I used to think the opposite. I also decided that River Phoenix with long hair is better than anything else.