Our Christmas holiday this year was a sort of revelatory experience. In opposition to our usual packed, busy, sightseeing holidays, we rented a little countryside cottage in Normandy and did nothing but what we liked over Christmas and New Year. Of course, predictably, what I liked was plenty of sightseeing, and you could say I’ve been dragged kicking and screaming into a relaxing holiday by saner elements of the family. But we had two weeks, so even with my adventure planning there were a lot of down days too, occupied by a pleasant mixture of reading, playing games, and taking walks on the windswept, empty beaches not far from our house.… Read more
I am still trying to wrap my head around this being the beginning of a new decade, as well as a new year. My approach towards New Year’s resolutions is basically nonexistent, since I am apt to reinvent myself on the spot whenever I feel the need, which tends to be multiple times in a year. However, I do love telling stories. In fact, the only possible way for me to ever make sense of my life is by telling it back to myself. Not once, but a thousand times. Memory is a funny thing. Our brains are constantly arranging and rearranging the past to make meaning out of it; reinforcing the parts that fit our own internal narrative and discarding the other unhelpful bits.… Read more
Dear Friends and Family Near and Far,
We hope 2019 has treated you kindly. Once again we feel grateful for the many wonderful moments we have shared this year. We are still living in Amsterdam, and feeling more rooted all the time. I write this from Normandy, where we are spending the Christmas holidays curled up in front of the fire eating cheese and drinking apple cider.
In February we drove to Alsace for our first (and very possibly last) ski holiday. The kids were soon flying down the slopes while I teetered along behind them thinking about how much longer it takes to recover from injuries in an almost-forty-year-old body.… Read more
When we were planning family trips as a kid, my mom used to tell me that anticipation is half the fun. It seems I took it to heart. Perhaps a little too much to heart. Tony and I have moved a lot of places since we got married fifteen years ago. But we have planned even more moves than we have executed, in varying levels of depth, up to and including consulting Google Maps street view to check out various prospective neighbourhoods.
Planning to move somewhere is a sort of reflexive impulse for us. We do it when we are feeling frustrated about the weather, the culture, the food, our jobs, or anything else about where we live now.… Read more
The terrific thing about having left your religion several years ago instead of yesterday is that you’ve already gone through all the stages of grief, you’ve worked through whatever family drama ensued from the big announcement, and you’re now free to make peace with your past. Which includes deciding which elements of that past you choose to keep, and which you let go.
There are parts of me that will always be Mormon. Like my propensity to hoard nonperishable food; a year supply of wheat in 15-gallon buckets is well beyond even my capacity to fit into my tiny Amsterdam apartment, but I am always overbuying things like pasta and dried beans.… Read more
My work trip in Berlin last month was mostly work, aside from a few nights out on the town with new friends. One evening we bonded at a Cuban cocktail bar over several pages of sugary cocktails, including some kind of hideously sweet bright green beer that is apparently a thing in Berlin.
Then there was an even more memorable evening where we randomly ended up in a German karaoke bar next to Alexanderplatz. Karaoke is one of those things that is so individually cultural, and yet simultaneously so weirdly universal. Suffice it to say that I heard the same Josh Groban song twice in one night.… Read more
The title of this post probably sounds metaphorical, but it isn’t. I really did spend Monday to Friday last week in Berlin, playing a game that could perhaps best be described as a cross between Capture the Flag, Dungeons and Dragons, and Model United Nations.
How did this come about? A bit randomly, as these things do. I quit my job last summer, and in the intervening months have been doing a combination of work on Hiraeth, web design and marketing for Tony’s new business, freelance projects, taking the Dutch classes I’ve been putting off so long, and brushing up on my reading skills in Latin and Arabic for grad school.… Read more
We have come a ways from our holiday in Malta two years ago, during which Tony had to negotiate hard with me for a day or two out of a two-week vacation that did not include hard-core sightseeing. These days I am more or less content to have some relaxing days during a holiday, especially if there is somewhere beautiful nearby for me to explore with Lyra while everyone else plays multiplayer games and watches YouTube blooper videos. But I couldn’t visit Alsace even for the lofty purpose of skiing without spending a day immersed in the history and culture of the region.… Read more
The kids have been begging for a ski trip for years; pretty much ever since we moved to Amsterdam and they learned from friends of the existence of ski trips. California girl that I am, skiing has never been much on my radar. I had a brief stint as a snowboarder in college because my roommate was obsessed, but as a highly anxious person, I generally have enough adrenaline in my life without purposely creating more by sliding at breakneck speed down a snowy mountainside.
However, I’ve noticed that parenthood is all about jumping heedlessly into things you’re totally unqualified and madly unprepared for.… Read more
Dear Loved Ones Far and Near,
This year was a milestone for the Family family: we have now lived in Amsterdam longer than anywhere else since we got married. We celebrated three years together with our adopted city in March. To inaugurate our happy state of being true Amsterdammers, we finally had a bike stolen! The advice generally given to newcomers here is to buy a cheap, old bike and a lock that costs more than the bike. Everyone uses two locks. In fact, after my bike was stolen, a helpful friend even told me about the “three lock rule”. I’m hoping my new bike sticks around for longer before becoming part of the thriving stolen bicycle black market in Amsterdam.… Read more