drunken cranberries and other universal truths

The Wednesday night before Thanksgiving has been drunken cranberry night since I learned, that first year I was entrusted with a dish, that you can't hurry along the gelling process, no matter how much you swear, cry or plead with the side-dish gods. I remember having to stop at the local 7-11 to buy (gasp!) canned sauce because mine was a sloppy, liquid mess. As I got of out the Ford Escort Pony and hurried through the doors, I said to myself, "As God is my witness, I will never eat canned again!"

So it is with great glee that I announce my drunken cranberry prowess IN METRIC. Tomorrow I go to Thanksgiving dinner with many American gourmets who probably will poo-poo my traditional whole-berry compote, but who cares! It is Wednesday, I am fresh from a canal boat party (with wigs) courtesy of one of our clients, and my sauce in now gelling on the counter. So Happy Thanksgiving everybody!

Mimi and Bill were here last week for a visit. So strange how a mom makes anyplace feel like home. We wandered around and I tried to show them what my normal life looks like -- bike routes, my wacky office, markets, etc. A pleasure to see their smiling faces here.



What a week it has been. I stayed up until 1am Tuesday night to watch early election returns come in on the NBC broadcast, but, since was really nothing to see, I reluctantly went to bed with hope in my heart and fear in my stomach. When I woke up, I set the laptop on the edge of the bathtub and spent an hour trolling the online newspapers and getting progressively giddy as more races were called blue. My friends have been asking lots of questions about the implications of the election and I have taken a perverse pleasure in explaining the federal system and what the Dems could do in Congress. Every social studies teacher (and Schoolhouse Rock episode) who detailed the minutiae of the three branches to me as a kid deserves a thank you. It has been a wonderful thing to talk politics without feeling embarrassed by election results. Oh! And I just discovered the wonder of Keith Olbermann on MSNBC. I heart him.

Last night I went to a meet-in event at a local bar all by myself. Meet-in is a group of people who get together to do all sorts of things: eat out at different restaurants, travel, run, see music, go to events, and have casual get-togethers. Though most of the members are ex-pats, there are lots of Dutch people involved as well. This was my second event -- the first was a Thai dinner a few months ago -- and it was a HUGE deal for me to actually show up. I have chickened out of going to things probably 10 times because the idea of walking into a room without knowing anyone is terrifying. But I did it (I was feeling buoyant because I had gone out for a little wine with friends from work and had spent two hours talking politics) and it was great. I met a man named Max from Rome, a lawyer for the International Tribunal in The Hague who is working on prosecuting Yugoslav war criminals as well as Charles Taylor, and a guy who was brought over from Cardiff to coach the Amsterdam hockey team. Hockey, you say? Isn't that played on ice? Nope. Men's field hockey. And this guy and lawyer dude tried to tell me that field hockey is real hockey and ice hockey is somehow fake. Now, I can take the whole soccer/football superiority thing, but field hockey? Come on! I actually said, "Isn't that just a sport for girls?" Ahhh yea.

Tomorrow I cook a Mexican-themed lunch for the Sunday club, which I think will be fabulous. I will try to remember to take some photos because these pages are getting fairly bland.


I wish I had a video camera in my eye

Because if I did, I would have filmed my bike ride home for you. It was late and I was feeling fairly happy after drinks and a movie and some more drinks and good conversations with friends. It rained hard tonight and the wind is whipping the leaves off the trees, but when I finally rode home, the moon was out and it had warmed up a little bit. Instead of riding my normal route, I took a bit of a detour and wound up cutting across the museumplein on the cobblestone path that is lit by NOTHING. And the museumplein is a big grassy field in between the Rijksmuseum and the Concertbauw and the VanGogh museum, so riding in the dark, with only the moon and the little LED light from HEMA for illumination, and the shadows of these immense buildings in the corners, was amazing. I said out loud (and may be tempting fate, in which case I urge the powers that be to recognize my overly-active enthusiasm streak and not mistake it for hubris), "Look at my life. How lucky am I?" Because it was beautiful and silent and for one second I was the only girl in the world.

On another note: check out my friend Amelia's blog. She is practicing for Project Runway 4 by having her friends issue fashion challenges on Friday, which she then completes (brilliantly) by Sunday night. She "makes it work" like no one I know. Seriously, you will never encounter someone with so much drive, passion, humor and strength. Do yourself a favor and get on board her crazy fashion train. You won't be sorry.


NYC baby!

I had a great weekend with Tom in New York/New Jersey/Connecticut and got the requisite first visit back out of the way. It was fun to be back in the land of Target and cheeseburgers, but especially great to see old friends and hang out with my boyfriend. The weather was perfect and I got to see New England autumn leaves at their finest when we journeyed up to Mystic for a touristy day trip. It was so freaking quaint I almost passed out.

When I got on the plane, I was so surprised to hear only English spoken by the flight attendants -- and American at that. I just expected to hear Dutch first, or at least second, as we jetted across the Atlantic. Newark was filled with chaos and noise and I felt sorry for anyone who wasn't a native English speaker who landed there. The directions and signs made no sense to anyone! Welcome to America: fill out these forms and don't use your cell phone in customs.

Manhattan was, as always, perfect, and I am certain that I will end up there, but I was excited to get back home to Amsterdam. If Tom were here with me, I would officially be the luckiest gal in the land. As it is, I get to visit the city I love and come back to a city that I am developing a bit of a reluctant crush on.