Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A Fail Whale of a Day

This woeful tale has no accompanying pictures. Therefore, enjoy these pictures from my iPhone library (and a lego Fail Whale) while I recount the events of yesterday in the lives of my roommate, our friend and myself.

I had woken up early to spend a few hours studying at the public library before meeting my Dutch class there for a walking tour of the city. Just minutes after leaving my study space, I realized I left my phone there. When I went back for it, it was gone.  I asked two employees and a security guard if someone had turned in a phone. They all looked at me like I was stupid. Awesome.

Phoneless, I met my class for the walking tour. We then spent the next two hours on what would have been a highly interesting historical tour of Amsterdam if it hadn't been freezing and pouring rain the entire time. I really shouldn't complain about this. I insisted on not wearing boots when I got dressed that morning. My toes have since regained feeling, but they have not forgiven me.

Arriving back in my warm apartment, I was surprised to see my roommate home when she was supposed to have been out with a friend. She told me that she made it about three blocks on her bike in the rain and decided it was not going to happen.

Figuring she would at least make something out of her trek into the thrashing wind and rain, she decided to pick up a few (much needed) groceries at the nearby Albert Heijn. When she got in the grocery store, she realized she only had 5 euro. What does one buy when equipped with a mere five euros and a long list of necessities like paper towels? Pudding mix, duh.

Yeah, then the day got better and we ate lots of food and watched Sherlock Holmes with our building. Particularly considering the food consumed, this part of the day was really more "whale" than "fail."

As we were getting ready for bed, we heard the familiar rhythmic knock of one of our hallmates. He had been locked out of his room and needed to stay the night. (NOTE: our doors lock automatically behind us and we are not allowed to call on the RAs past 9 pm) It turns out, he had had a girl over to his place for a dinner date and, just seconds after a perfect goodbye, he noticed she had left her mittens. He ran down the hall and caught her just in time to hand her the mittens...and to hear his door shut, locked, behind him. Shoeless. Phoneless. He ended the date on an awkward note and spent the night on our cushions.

Honestly, despite the FMyLife.com theme of the day, it was truly an enjoyable day. I mean, really, who can complain when your roommate specially makes you soy milk pudding?

Pictures from top to bottom:
1. K & L (Kate and Lauren) eat T-Giving (Thanksgiving). A documentary drawing by Kate Bristol.
2. When he's drunk, the Lorax thinks he can speak to the trees. Pfft, weirdo.
3. I really got dealt the letters "OMGITIS," in that order, during a game of Words with Friends.
4. My carry-on bag to Amsterdam consisted almost entirely of cheetos.
5. A worm (or, perhaps, a noodle) at Mr. Chopsticks in Denton.

One more fail:
I'm going to be continuing my streak of being M.I.A. on this blog until about Saturday as I'm working on a project that is wholly consuming my life. I'm talking the not eating, sleeping or changing clothes level of devotion. To those who read my blog to be assured that I'm alive and well, know that the alive part still stands while I'm not blogging this week.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Tale of My Lost Glove

I decided this story worked better as a video.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Pancakes and Wilhem II - Doorn, The Netherlands

This weekend, I visited Doorn, a town in the Utrecht province of the Netherlands where Wilhelm II of Prussia lived (and died) after being exiled in 1918. He lived in Huis Doorn, a manor dating back to the 15th century.

Being exiled, Wilhelm took all of his hundreds of thousands of possessions with him and stuffed them into the tiny manor. 90% of the possessions remain, which makes touring the manor look like a combination of the tv shows Cribs and Hoarders.

Though photography wasn't allowed inside the manor, I did learn that Wilhelm II was an incredibly strange man. For example, someone once told him that one can think of the greatest ideas while on the back of a horse. So, Wilhelm had special stools made out of saddles for all of his offices, that way he could have great ideas while sitting at his desk.

Wilhelm also enjoyed playing hide and seek on his steamboat with his crew and gave his second wife a photo of his first wife as an engagement present.

Before exploring the inner workings of Wilhelm II's mind, we stopped for traditional Dutch pannekoeken at this restaurant:



Yes, they were huge and delicious and kind of looked like pizza. A pannenkoek is a (much) larger, flatter version of a normal pancake or a larger, thicker version of a crepe. I thought they were more like crepes than pancakes, but no one else seemed to agree with me. They are typically made with fruits, cheese, eggs or meats baked into them or put on top and can also be eaten with sugar and syrup.

I had a simple apple pannenkoek, but as you can see, it was still epically huge. I would like to note that I was the second person of about twenty to finish eating mine.

We also had a plate full of miniature pannenkoeken, which were just pieces of cooked pancake batter dipped in butter and powdered sugar. Like all baking scraps turned delicacies, they were freaking delicious.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


My school has decided to implement video blogs into our written student blogs. I don't particularly like the first one I made, but I thought I'd share it here anyways since I haven't had anything to write about for a while.

Oh, also, my heat is out. That also means my hot water is not working. At least it gives me a legitimate excuse not to shower. "why does that girl smell so bad? ga-awd." "her hot water isn't working." "oh ok, chill."

Friday, February 5, 2010

20 New Things

 On New Years, I mentioned that I was planning on joining the "new things" phenomenon that has been hitting bloggers, most notably Sarah Von (she also may have started it, I'm not sure). The idea is that you try one new thing for every year old you will be turning in the coming year. I'm getting started quite late, but I wanted to wait until I got to Amsterdam to finalize and begin my list.

My list is pretty European/tourist specific this year. Next year, when I'm not living out of a suitcase, it will be easier to do crafts or projects as opposed to "go here" and "see this." Nonetheless, I am very excited to get started on trying all of these new things before my 20th birthday on May 4th.

1.    Try Indonesian cuisine
2.    Buy and learn to use a fountain pen
3.    Attend a concert in Glasgow, Scotland
4.    Spend time at a café in Montmarte, France
5.    Go to Electric Ladyland
6.    Create a model of an Amsterdam neighborhood using food
7.    Climb to the top of Dom Tower in Utrecht
8.    Eat at the Sea Palace Floating Restaurant
9.    See the cages at St. Lambert’s Church in Münster, Germany
10.    Ride my bike through the Dutch countryside
11.    Go to a football (soccer) game
12.    Eat only gluten-free foods for a day
13.    Have an extended conversation with a local
14.    Read the entire Percy Jackson and the Olympians series
15.    Send a postcard to no one in particular
16.    Attend a film festival
17.    Spend a day only speaking Dutch (or else not speaking)
18.    Eat a true croissant in France
19.    Have a no-tech day (with the exception of keeping my required emergency phone on)
20.    Open for suggestions : )

I've been asking people on twitter and my friends here in Amsterdam for suggestions for my final new thing and extend the request to readers here.

 photo via

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


The other night, a group of about half a dozen of us American girls were walking back from a borrel at the international building (as far as I can tell, a borrel is a sort of welcome party). There was fresh slush covering the icy ground though nothing was falling from the sky. As we paused at an intersection, an old man rounded the turn on his bicycle, not seeing the black ice, and fell down with a crash directly in front of us.

We disentangled him from his bike and tried to communicate to him, but he either didn't speak English or was too shocked to get any words out. It was only his leg that was hurt, but as he put his legs out in front of him, his right foot had turned an entire ninety degrees towards his left leg. With his leg at such a gruesome angle, he could hardly move, let alone walk. All we could do to keep him from being run over was to crowd as many of us around him as possible to make sure the cars or bikes would see us.

Several Dutch people showed up just as we had gotten the emergency number on the line, which was incredibly fortuitous as we realized too late that none of us yet speak Dutch and we couldn't relay the cross road information.

The ambulance came very quickly and it looked like the old man would be fine except for a slow recovery from his leg injury.

The look of terrorized confusion, but seeming lack of pain in the old man's eyes while he sat crouched on the slick ice mesmerized me. His face stuck with me for the rest of that night and through the next day until I was sitting in the first meeting of my Art of the 20th Century course. The lecture was on Picasso and my professor ended with his final self-portrait painted only months before his death.

This was the old man. I had found him again on a screen in a darkly lit classroom just a block from where I had last seen him.

It is Picasso and it is the old man. It is every person knowingly approaching the end of their rope. The haggard terror concentrated in the eyes waning into a straight mouth, numb from exhaustion...or an emotion I can't yet know. Whatever the case may be, it is a testament to Picasso's ability to perceive and represent that his works are able to penetrate precise sensations behind the figures he saw in reality and evoke those same sensations in figures we have seen in our lives.

In other news, I bought a bike today.