Monday, August 30

Amsterdam #2

So, Amsterdam just blew my mind. Let me start at the beginning.

4:30 pm yesterday, at a pizzeria near the Rijksmuseum. Eating my first real meal of the day. We invite the solo gentleman sitting a few tables down to join us. He is a charmingly funny Irishman named Martin -- and I don't care what your gender or how you identify, I simply love accents. So. After we eat, I head back to the hostel to take a quick nap and get some work done on my Fulbright application, leaving my friend Tina and our new friend Martin alone for a few hours. We meet up later, around 7, and they've already got a few drinks in them and have a few cans of Heineken to offer me. We wait for Martin's friends to show up right by the entrance of Vondelpark, all the while getting sprinkled with the lazy Amsterdam evening rain and enjoying the people watching. Then we're a five-some: I, Tina, Martin, Sean and Mark all head out toward the Red Light District, tramming it to get out of the rain and stopping off at the Euro Bar to have another drink and some fries.

Now, friends, try to picture this. Me with three charming, witty, very very straight Irish men. Drunk. Wandering through the Red Light District, with barely clothed women shimmying and beckoning in red backlit windows right on the street front. Now, I thought that I had made it fairly clear that I prefer WOMEN, but these three took my comments as a way to amuse themselves all night. Let me make myself clear: they were very nice men, and once they realized that I actually do date women, they were adorably curious and sweet. But the running commentary was a tad obnoxious.

So, we enter the Red Light District. And a few drinks down the hatch, we decide that we should go see a sex show. I figure, when in Rome... Before you judge me, you should know that I'm a complete feminist, and that prostitution is legal in Amsterdam, that I was not partaking, and that the situation is compelx, and of course all I'm thinking the entire time is ughh, umm, okay? I needed to see it for myself. It was so funny -- the boys kept turning to me and asking, genuinely, does that turn you on? what do you think about that? is she your type? Meanwhile, I'm sitting toward the back, slightly uncomfortable, mostly bemused, Heineken # something-or-other in hand, looking into all of the performers' faces and trying to understand their stories, get any hint of their emotions, and also monitoring the audience, slightly sickened at the whooping older men, surprised at the number of women in the audience, and the different personalities of the performs. I turn to the poor blokes and explain that I like REAL women. I can tell I'm totally bursting their bubble, but I forge on. These women are most likely straight. And there's no emotion or, well, reality! There is absolutely nothing that turns me on about a performance like that -- it's the lover that gives the pleasure, not the sex, as Marge Piercy says.

Sufficiently non-shocked and non-turned on but still sufficiently floaty, we do a bit more wandering and head to an Irish pub where I'm no longer buying my own drinks. There the conversation splits into two, with Kristine (Tina) and Martin chatting animatedly next to me (he had lots of good tips about which places to visit) while Sean, Mark and I delve into conversation about me, my relationships, my history. It was incredibly cute, and flattering, and unusual for me as a gay girl having these two incredibly hetero guys just genuinly stone-cold fascinating in my life. And no, I wasn't so out of it that I THOUGHT they were genuinely interested. Those of you who know me will know that I don't take any shit or any interest from people I'm not interested in.

Anyhow, then it was time for the night to end. Lots of hugs, invitations to come visit in Dublin, and voila! our exciting, cliche adventure in Amsterdam (sans the hash) is over. Tina and I departed for our respective hostels -- hers was very close to the District but mine was too far -- and I cab it home after three nice Dutch boys on bikes tell me it's too long to walk. I crawl into bed, whip off my jeans and reach up to take out my earrings and -- wait! -- there's only one there! Fucksicle. Oh well. A good night out. I love this city.

Saturday, August 28

Okay, Amsterdam for reals, #1

SO, back to craziness/wonderfulness of my life. I just spent five days in Hawaii visiting two dear friends of mine from Smith, where I enjoyed the beach, muddy hiking, and SCUBA diving (I got certified in Thailand in March). Needless to say, it was epic and fun and lovely and enjoyable (though everything is much more expensive there than on the mainland -- which didn't stop me from indulging in a vegetarian mondo burrito on spinach with sour cream and guacamole from Taco Del Mar). Then, after barely getting on my flight from Honolulu to Seattle (it was literally three minutes before the plane was supposed to take off and the Delta agent hands me a first class boarding pass to replace my seat request card), I spent about 24 hours in Seattle with my mother. I quizzed her on questions for her massage school exams (spinous processes of the last six thoracic vertebrae, the last 3-4 ribs, the thoracolumbar aponeurosis, and the posterior iliac crest!) and we cooked a delicious meal inspired by Cafe Flora's vegetarian menu. Then early the next morning, after a slight scare where my fingers turned blue and was in lots of pain and I thought I had some sort of weird form of decompression sickness, I headed to Salt Lake City to see my dad for 48 hours. And Anna spent the night there with me last night, a weigh station on her drive across the country back to Smith! Side note: I love it when I get to show my home(s) to people who are important to me. It's even nice when people get to see my Utah house now, because even though it's not my home-home (Kirkland is), it's where I go now. If that makes any sense. And Utah is freaking beautiful - mountains, a huge sky, canyons, parks, dogs, outdoor music venues, Saturday markets... And then I hopped on a plane to Minneapolis, and then another to Amsterdam.

So, here I am, sitting in a McDonald's in Amsterdam, by Central Station. Have yet to meet up with my friend, did a bit of wandering earlier this morning, but I'm a little tired and would rather not get stuck in the rain. So I think I'll hang out here and get some writing done until Tina and I rendez-vous. I'm so exhausted! So much travel in the last three weeks. Not that I'm complaining. I should add that I do understanding I am more than incredibly lucky to have a father who is a pilot. I do not take these flight privileges lightly. I know how lucky I am, and I spent years feeling guilty because of it. But I'm going to use them for good and not for evil, and they also won't last forever -- just 1-2 more years (we're not exactly clear on the rules) and then -- POOF! -- gone.

I should also add that I am incredibly broke right now. But it's because I've finally convinced myself that it's okay to spend money on things that I need and want and enjoy. Being a little selfish about some things is okay -- I know that Ayn Rand would probably agree (thanks, Erin M.!). I spent two years in a state of constant penny-pinching, saving for my three-month trip this spring. And I spent nearly all of the money I had saved (I don't regret a thing!). Then I came back and worked in Washington, DC for the summer, but the very small stipend I was offered went right back out the door to pay for rent and food. And here I am now, with friends to see, textbooks to buy, a body to feed, yadda yadda... I am so excited to be earnign money again, and saving and spending it. Don't get me wrong, I'm a financially smart girl. I'm not a math girl, but I understand finances. I intend on saving what I can this year so that I can graduate with a few months' worth of income to start me off wherever I choose to go when I leave Smith (and so that I can start paying off my student loans), but I also intend to spend more. I am sick of feeling miserable and poor when I really do have enough money to maybe go have a chai tea latte once a week, or bring home a bouquet of flowers from the market for my dorm room, or buying a book on a whim. Work hard and play hard, my friends -- that's my motto for this last year of my Smith experience. I will turn in a Fulbright application in September, do some more hardcore traveling in October, perhaps run a marathon around Thanksgivign in November, and turn 21 in December. And I think that Amsterdam is as good a place as any to start the 'playing hard'!

Here goes!

Amsterdam 2010!

Alright folks, so if you weren't already aware, my life is entirely unreal.

I'm in Amsterdam right now, for a four day jaunt with my friend Kristine. I have no idea where I am sleeping tonight and only have a backpack with me. It feels great!

More updates to come when I have more internet/time. On to pils and stroopwafel!