Nudist Librarian 

Nudist Librarian 

So there’s this book that you’ve probably read, or someone you know has certainly read. Pretty much everyone I know seems to have read it and touted its genius and capacity for transforming one’s existence.

Which is nothing less than the premise and the promise of the book: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. This was a book that I vowed I would not read. Probably at least 85% of the fights I had with my mother when I was a teenager revolved around the state of my messy bedroom, and the stuff she wanted me to throw away to remedy it. Every time I moved to a different place at university, I would be up late in the night, battling with all my junk. During one of those moves I remember going out to the dumpster at midnight with my roommate to throw out six giant pickle jars (empty of pickles, but full of pickle juice, which I reused to pickle baby carrots, apparently in truly monumental quantities).

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Confessions of a Serial Vandal

Confessions of a Serial Vandal

The other day I came across this article about the love locks on Paris bridges. You know, the romantic tradition where you and your lover affix a lock to a bridge to symbolise your undying love, and then dramatically toss the keys into the river below.

Except that according to the article this tradition isn’t romantic; it’s vandalism. I suppose they do have a point. It was OK when the first creative and enterprising lover did it. But if each of the hopeless romantics in the world puts a lock on a Paris bridge, all the Paris bridges will sooner or later collapse from the accumulated weight of all those locks. Cutting them off and donating them to charity is a pragmatic solution that I applaud, albeit with a twinge of sentimental regret. Still, perhaps it will have some kind of positive karmic effect on the respective love stories of the romantics involved, so maybe the municipal desecration of the original desecration is a win for everyone.

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Schinkelbuurt in Bygone Days

Schinkelbuurt in Bygone Days

Ever since we bought our new house I’ve been meaning to go down to the city archives and look up our address to see if any old photographs existed of our house. A couple of days ago, somebody told me that the city archives have a website where you can do just that from the comfort of your own home. And I immediately began planning this blog post, in which I go around our neighborhood and take then-and-now photos to match the ones in the archive. So welcome to a trip down memory lane and a glimpse of the Schinkelbuurt of yesterday.

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Tony’s First Tattoo

Tony’s First Tattoo

Yes, he did it. While we were in Malta. And it was the most romantic thing ever.

Because he did it on holiday, you might think that it was a spur of the moment (and possibly regrettable) decision. But he’s actually been planning and talking about this particular tattoo for years. So when he saw a snazzy looking tattoo shop just down the street from our AirBnB, he figured it was a sign. From the inside, the tattoo shop was even better. There’s so much of the weirdly wonderful going on here, from the guy sitting to the right–who is not a guy, but a ghost–to that piano/shrine/home bar with all the candles gloriously melted over it

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Star Wars, A Love Story

Star Wars, A Love Story

Took the kids to see Star Wars last night. That sentence still kind of gives me a thrill. I always felt a little cheated by the universe that I was born a decade or so too late to see Star Wars in the theatre when it first came out. I grew up absorbing the story by osmosis, hearing about it and acting it out and seeing it in bits and pieces before I could even parse the plot as something more coherent than a vast, mysterious mythology that enveloped my childhood inner life.

It was another kind of thrill, certainly, to see the prequel episodes in the theatre as a young adult. But they were so different in tone, and, alas, so full of cringe-worthy moments, that even when they were shiny and new and full of cutting-edge special effects, you couldn’t quite fall in love with them the way you instinctively did with the originals.

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Valentine’s Day and the Naked Sauna

Valentine’s Day and the Naked Sauna

Sometimes February gets a bad rap. I remember my Seminary teacher telling us one gloomy February that more Seminary teachers commit suicide in February than any other month. I still wonder if actual studies have been done on suicide rates among Mormon Seminary teachers, although I realize now that she was probably just making a point about how much she was not enjoying getting up at 5:30 every weekday morning to teach grumpy, sleepy, inattentive teenagers.

Still, February isn’t the most advantageously positioned month. It’s cold, dark, and dreary. All the nice things about winter, like endless cups of tea or curling up by the fire or wearing cute hats and scarves, are getting old, and all the nasty things, like lack of sunshine, excessive precipitation of whatever sort, and being sick, are feeling interminable. In fact, since the beginning of the year almost everyone I know here, whether at work, home, my kids’ school, or just random acquaintances, has been sick at least once. I had a cold that lasted two weeks, and left me hoarse and coughing for another two.

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Amsterdam SAIL

Amsterdam SAIL

Considering its geography and topography, it’s no surprise that the Netherlands is a country of mariners. During the 17th century, it had the largest navy in the world, as well as an economy built around the commerce of its major port cities. And although a series of Anglo-French alliances eventually put an end to Dutch military dominance of the sea, Rotterdam is still the biggest port in Europe. Today Amsterdam has a beautiful (and very much used) network of historic canals. There’s one that runs right near our house, in fact, and it’s a lovely place for picnics. And I never go out there without this charming quote from The Wind in the Willows running through my head:

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The Canal Parade

The Canal Parade

Ever since we moved to Amsterdam, people have been telling us about the famous canal parade that happens every August in celebration of Pride week. This place loves an excuse for a party, and as city renowned for its tolerance and open-mindedness, it’s no surprise that Amsterdam celebrates Gay Pride with panache and gusto. There are all-night street parties and other events for days before and after, but the main attraction is the canal parade on Saturday afternoon.

Accordingly, we arrived a good hour and a half or so before the parade was to begin. The crowds were already packed along the parade route, but we managed to find a spot on a bridge (we’d been informed that bridges offered the best view), almost in the front. We settled the kids with their legs dangling off the bridge under one of the giant hanging flower baskets. Yes, I did give more than a passing thought to the idea that they might fall in the canal, but no, it didn’t prevent me from allowing it.

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David Tennant – Elsewhere

The last time I had a celebrity crush this bad was when we lived in Ireland. I got really sick, and spent a week in bed watching Darren Hayes music videos. I still love me some Savage Garden, but I’m (mostly) over Darren Hayes, although I can never get tired of listening to “The Animal Song.”

Things are much worse this time. Even re-watching the three David Tennant seasons of Doctor Who with Tony (and then again with Axa) is not enough to give me my David Tennant fix these days. So I’ve had to branch out. I was initially worried that seeing him play anything other than a 945-year-old Time Lord would be somehow disillusioning. Fortunately, David Tennant is versatile enough to be brilliant no matter what he’s doing (or what he’s wearing). Here’s what I’ve been watching him in lately:

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Deep Breath (Spoilers, of Course)

When I found out that Deep Breath, the premier episode of Doctor Who, Season 8 would be showing in theaters, I was over the moon. The only bad thing was that for whatever reason (long-delayed British revenge for the Boston Tea Party?) it wasn’t screened until a full 48 hours after it had been shown in Britain. So I did my best to stay off social media in the meantime to avoid being hit by spoilers in one of the six different Doctor Who Facebook groups to which I belong.

However, the long-awaited day did dawn at last. I picked up our babysitter on my way home from work, and felt a little guilty that she was babysitting for our kids while we went to Doctor Who when I found out that she’s a fan too. Such are the vicissitudes of being a teenage babysitter, I guess. I remember thinking that most of the things the parents I babysat for as a teenager were doing sounded more fun than staying home with their kids too.

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