Here's to good friends...

Being away from my friends is the hardest part of this journey. I knew that it would be difficult, but I had no idea how much it would hurt my heart. Though I am over here, part of me is still sitting in a dark restaurant or a sunny courtyard, laughing and gossiping and waxing poetic over a glass of something with my girls (and the odd boy). My friends are amazing, smart, funny and kind. They are patient and tolerant and incredibly special. I am so lucky and so blessed.

You will be happy to hear that, when I was out with work people last week, one of my new friends said, "The best part of going out with Katie is that you never know what she is going to say, but you know it is going to be good." Later in the night, the count of random things I said in all seriousness, but seemed to strike people as funny (why??) was up to 10 and included my feelings toward Tony Blair and John Cleese and my affinity for gay porn. Apparently I was on fire.

And so, my friends, I am the same -- as randomly entertaining to people here as I was there -- but they aren't the same as you and I haven't told you nearly enough how much I love you.

On a serious note: two amazing people I worked with in Portland lost their son last week. Please send some love out into the universe for them.


Bits and pieces

another end to another night...

Thought I would spend odd moments reporting little things about life in Amsterdam that may not be subject line worthy on their own, but are part of a larger, entertaining, entry.

- there are about 10 cats that live around my terrace. They circle the yard on top of the fences and stare at me from the rooftops of garden sheds and buildings. Like I did with soccer players during World Cup, I have made up names for each based on their appearance (the cats have far nicer names than the players). One cat is named Hitler: white face (no duh) and black triangle hair cutting at a 45 degree angle across the forehead and one ear. And a perfect rectangle mustache. I think that Hitler gets hassled regularly by the skinny black cat named Big Balls.

- apparently I have a vase obsession. I moved four over with me, but they are more decorative than usable, so I had to buy two more once I got here, which is nothing to be ashamed of. I have lots of white space to fill! And flowers are plentiful and cheap! But then I ran to the Monday flea market and found three more -- mid-century West German vases in all sorts of colors and sizes. So now I have nine vases. No soap dishes, mind you. But nine vases.

- have I talked yet about the heat wave? It has been hot and humid for about two weeks -- temps well in to the 80s every day. Some of you may scoff, as I know it has been very hot in other places, but the humidity is crazy and I have canals all around me whose water is starting to get funky. I am not one to complain about the weather, especially hot weather, but I am getting bored of having a permanent sweat mustache.

- it was so good to see Heidi last Sunday. We had a very civilized lunch in my apartment and then wandered around the museum district and then to a cafe. As we sang, "Wig in a Box" at full volume from my dining room table, I realized that I am the same person I was -- the same person I like -- from Portland. And as a direct result, this week was the first week that I really felt comfortable and part of things here. I am relaxing a bit and dancing a little more at random moments. And I sang out loud on my bike ride in this morning. Lovely.


Tom's trip to Amsterdam

I asked Tom to write something for the blog, and this is what he sent.

As some of you know I was lucky enough to be in Amsterdam with Katie for 10 days and the following is my completely unbiased view of what I saw during my travels.

As I got out of the car from the airport (provided by Katie) a second story window opened and what appeared to wave at me could only be described as an angel. The ethereal vision that opened said window turned out to be my Katie. It may have been jet lag but I'm fairly certain I saw 2 doves fly out behind her.

I cannot believe how much Amsterdam (and Europe as a whole) agrees with Katie. She looked beautiful as always but the main thing I noticed was how relaxed she appeared. There is a calmness in her that I caught glimpses of in the past but now is there all the time. She looks happy and healthy and once again...beautiful.

Her apartment rocks completely! It has high ceilings in the living room and outside has all the makings of a kick ass garden. She immediately kyboshed my suggestion to put in artificial turf and a badmitton net. It has 2 floors and if she had the same apartment in New York it would probably rent for $5000 per month. In what must be described as a monumental effort of self control Katie has used a minimalist touch to the walls of the apartment. They are huge and white and when you sit on her furniture you get a sense of peace. As I stated before...the place rocks. I know where she will be when I call her on a Sunday afternoon...staring outside at the foliage.

Katie's friends from work are very very cool. Most of them Brits with the occasional New Zealander and the token American thrown in for good measure. They seem genuinely fond of her and that feeling is returned on her part. They can drink. And smoke (cigarettes). And drink. They are a lot of fun to hang around with. I met them at an outdoor pub after work (her workday - my days were spent getting lost on a bicycle) one day and they were funny, a little crazy and a lot cool. One girl even brought us to her favorite bar which she never took anyone else to. Katie called this the "Grey Gardens" bar. It was a trip.

In her previous blog Katie mentioned something about us going to a coffee shop. I have no idea what she is talking about. I spent most of my time at church.

I will not ramble on anymore but I will say this: In my opinion Katie made the perfect move going to Amsterdam. No matter where she goes after this her time spent in Amsterdam will be something that stays with her forever.

what a guy...



Yesterday was a company party, so the entire office spent the day at a lake about an hour and a half outside of Amsterdam. It was a beautiful, hot day with swimming, jet skiing (with excellent instruction - I went around the loop once, decided that was enough excitement, promptly fell into the water and floated around for five minutes while the rest of my group kept going -- it was great) and most exciting, a zip line that went from a VERY TALL tower, over the water and to the shore on the other side. I overcame my fear of heights and forced myself to do it. When I got to the end, I kept yelling, "I did it! I did it! I did it!" Very cool.

After the day of activities (we couldn't drink if we wanted to do them), we had cocktails and a DJ and a samba band and a bon fire and dinner and hot tubs and hair and make up people and lots and lots of dancing. It was amazing.

Here is a photo of me watching the sun go down over the lake from the top deck of the fake pirate ship they had moored to the dock. Forgive the purple drag shadow on my half-mast eyes. I was clearly under the influence of flight.


The view out my window

I had my first dinner party of sorts last night and this was the view from my dining room table at midnight.


The week that was...

My apologies for being a bit lax on the blog-front. It has been a lovely week of love and loving and sunshine and rainbows and unicorns and fuzzy kittens 'n stuff. And delightful cheese.

Saturday: Tom and I went to Albert Cuyp market and bought the makings for a picnic in the park. It was unexpectedly warm and sunny, so we spent a few hours lying on the grass, drinking wine, eating chicken and these amazing tomatoes stuffed with feta and herbs and reading our books. After months of hurrying through our visits with each other, it felt like a giant luxury to just sit with each other and be lazy in the sunshine.

Sunday: We went to the Van Gogh museum and I had to do some work, so the afternoon wasn't as picturesque as I wanted it to be. We walked up to the Jordaan to watch the WC finals with a bunch of people from work. The head butt that was heard around the world! There was yelling and cheering and Tom comforted a despondent Frenchman after it was all over. We wound up having kebabs and falafel at midnight and taking the tram back home in the early hours.

Monday: Tom rented a bike and quickly started taking off to parts unknown. He has been fearless and has seen much more of Amsterdam than I have. After work we went to a coffee shop with some friends from work and I realized why Amsterdam is so mellow. Good fun. Sorry mom.

Tuesday: I went to a salon to have my hair cut and colored and wound up with a fabulous new 'do. The Parisians -- they aren't much for zee conversation, but they are zee wizards with zee scissors. You know you are no longer on vacation when you start forming relationships with new beauty providers.

Wednesday: Tom went to a place called, "Electric Lady Land." It is a museum of UV light run by an old hippie from New Jersey. He told very funny stories about it over drinks with some of my fellow project managers. We went to a bar later that was so completely "Grey Gardens" I thought Little Edie would descend from the spiral staircase waving Dutch flags and doing a little dance. And then there were late-night tapas, where I thought it would be a great idea to use my Castilian Spanish with the owner. I thought I was fabulous. The owner, he was less than impressed.

And yesterday was another nice day. We did a little shopping after work because shops are open late on Thursday (until 8pm) and then went to yet another old bar for a drink before heading home for dinner. Tonight we are going to see a photography show at Foam gallery (http://www.foam.nl/) and then for a glass of something with Heidi - my friend from Portland who picked up and came over to Europe in search of adventure.

This weekend Tom and I are planning on riding out of the city to Haarlem or the beach and then chill out on Sunday. He leaves on Monday morning and I am back to being just me. It will be ok -- he will come back.


My first visitor

Tom arrived this morning and reacted with the proper shock and awe when he saw my new place. And he brought the latest issues of "Lucky" and "Domino" with him, which made his arrival all the sweeter. It is funny to have someone to show around, though he is currently showing himself around while I work, suddenly I have a sense of ownership of my surroundings. I am excited to see his reaction to the canal ring in the evening (amazing light), see his first glimpse of the museumplein coming from de Pijp (for some reason, very impressive), sit and drink a beer and watch people go by (when two people do it, it's entertainment. when one person does it, it's stalking), and on and on.


I'm OK! I'm OK

Thanks for your thoughts and virtual hugs. I am better now. Moved in to the new place this weekend and am busy getting it together. I don't have any internet access from home yet, so I am a bit out of the loop, but I will try to keep this up to date from work, when I can.

It is very warm here and I spent a few hours in my new garden sitting in the sun and reading my book. That makes everything better. And fresh strawberries from the market -- they make everything better too. And a comfortable mattress -- that helps. And watching football with lots of people from work and having a neighbor who is excited to show me around and IKEA on a Friday night -- all those things are good and sustaining and keep me moving forward.

Photos of the apartment to come. Thanks again for the love. Right back at you!