Introduction

A tiny future librarian’s introduction to studying abroad featuring mispronounced words, childhood video games, and Coco the tuxedo cat.

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An Epilogue of Sorts

It’s been a month since I came back home from the Netherlands. Here’s a closing video for that chapter of my life!

Do you want a balloon? A 23rd birthday reflection journal 

[Transcription: 9/12/17

I am 25 hours into my 23rd birthday and still have 8 hours left of it. I know that doesn’t sound like it makes any sense, but I decided early on that my birthday started the moment September 11th started in the Netherlands and ends when September 11th ends back home in Oregon, so that gives me a full 33 hours of birthday and allows me to keep celebrating even now that the day is over here.

Birthdays are strange to me because they always seem to be weirder than usual days for no reason whatsoever. On my 20th birthday I had a job interview. On my 21st birthday I filed a harassment report at that job and threw my own birthday party in the office. Last year I went to see Labyrinth at the theater by myself. This year I’m in Rotterdam. My birthday is nine hours longer. I ate Belgian chocolate. I read an adorable book about lesbian and bisexual princesses. I went to see IT, which was subtitled in Dutch. And it was all strange. It was a bit on a whim for me — Stephen King is one of my biggest influences and has played a huge role in my and my partner’s bonding, and the timing of the movie allows us to nerd out over it together despite that we watched it 5,000 miles apart.

I think 23 is especially weird to me because I’ve been accidentally trying to refer to myself as 23 for the last several months for absolutely no reason whatsoever, and I can’t figure out why. I do know that I feel 23, and that’s weird. How does one feel an age when age is not something you can touch?

22 was the year  I became more sure of myself and stopped taking shit from people who didn’t believe in me or didn’t want to see me succeed. I am stronger. I am not going to put up with people for no reason anymore. I’m going to be myself this year. Whoever that is.]

[drawing of a balloon with the words “do you want a balloon?”]

[Transcription: “he thrusts his fists against the posts and still insists he sees the ghosts”]

A Few Photos from Mons

We had a weekend trip to Mons, Belgium, and admittedly I used most of it to build websites and do other important computer-based tasks… It was raining and I was in a productivity rush. Nevertheless, here are a few shots from Mons!

A sculpture in Mons, Belgium, that arcs over the street. The arcs are made of spikes, and most of them are silver. Some areas of the spikes are rainbow-colored. The arcs are very tall and can be walked or driven under.
A sculpture in Mons, Belgium, that arcs over the street. The arcs are made of spikes, and most of them are silver. Some areas of the spikes are rainbow-colored. The arcs are very tall and can be walked or driven under.
The ceiling of the Mundaneum in Mons. It's modeled after what the earth looks like from the sky, and has several lights located where collaborators are located. It looks a lot like a night sky.
The ceiling of the Mundaneum in Mons. It’s modeled after what the earth looks like from the sky, and has several lights located where collaborators are located. It looks a lot like a night sky.
A large, rotating globe in the Mundaneum. It is roughly ten feet wide.
A large, rotating globe in the Mundaneum. It is roughly ten feet wide.
A first edition volume of the Universal Decimal Classification System guide. It is a book that is over 100 years old and about six inches thick. The book is open to the table of contents.
A first edition volume of the Universal Decimal Classification System guide. It is a book that is over 100 years old and about six inches thick. The book is open to the table of contents.
A first edition volume of the Universal Decimal Classification System guide. It is a book that is over 100 years old and about six inches thick. The book is closed.
A first edition volume of the Universal Decimal Classification System guide. It is a book that is over 100 years old and about six inches thick. The book is closed.
A round skylight in the Mundaneum. It was raining and the skylight is covered in rain.
A round skylight in the Mundaneum. It was raining and the skylight is covered in rain.
A close-up of the rain on the glass of the skylight.
A close-up of the rain on the glass of the skylight.
The preservation work station at the Mundaneum with four photographs that still need to be preserved and cleaned up. The archivist, who is our tour guide, is sitting at her station.
The preservation work station at the Mundaneum with four photographs that still need to be preserved and cleaned up. The archivist, who is our tour guide, is sitting at her station.
"MONS" spray painted in the hallway in the basement of the Mundaneum. It used to be a department store, and the walls were left in the condition they were previously in.
“MONS” spray painted in the hallway in the basement of the Mundaneum. It used to be a department store, and the walls were left in the condition they were previously in.
A staircase outdoors between streets in Mons. The buildings lining the staircase are tall and made of brick. The stairs are wet because it was raining.
A staircase outdoors between streets in Mons. The buildings lining the staircase are tall and made of brick. The stairs are wet because it was raining.

Kick ‘Em In The Balls — Biking at the Kröller-Müller Museum

I find it important to note that I fell off my bike less than five minutes after writing this. I swerved to avoid two people in wheelchairs and hit the curb.

 

[transcription: 9/6/17

I feel daring. What if I just kept going forward and never turned back?

On Saturday I somehow evaded being mugged at an ATM by kicking my attacker in the testicles. It was scary, but honestly I feel pretty good about myself for having that as my first reaction. I am only sporadically gutsy — sometimes I can scream “fuck off” at the top of my lungs, and other times I can’t get myself to speak or do anything.I guess when I’m threatened that anger inside of me is capable of taking over to protect me, and that kind of power feels pretty good. I filed a police report yesterday and taught a Dutch police officer what the slang term “junk” means in English, and that was pretty cool.

Even after that, I still feel the urge to veer off by myself a lot. I’m currently at the part of the Kröller-Müller Museum, which is HUGE and has bicycles for free use.I picked on that is maybe a centimeter too tall for me but is manageable, and then I just took off into the woods by myself. I don’t know where I am or how far I’ve gone, but it’s nice just sitting on a fallen tree with nothing but the sound of the wind and the occasional passing bicycle. This place reminds me a lot of bicycling around Diamond Lake — I’d do that essentially every summer as a kid around the same campground to the point where I haven’t been there in several years and I still know my way around the place like the back of my hand. I always seem to find the strangest places familiar even if they’re new to me. And the thought’s crossed my mind — what if I just keep riding forward forever like I’m back at Broken Arrow campground?

Well, the fact that I can’t bike worth shit is worth considering. I’ve had bikes run over by cars and the tires beaten against a tree stump to straighten them out, I’ve crashed into trees… It’s self-defense. Eventually I’m going to have to wander back to safety. for now, though, I can enjoy getting lost on my own. It’s quiet here, and that’s something I could use right now.]

It’s Friday, August 32nd! A Visit to Museum Speelklok in Utrecht

It’s a holiday at my work today, and I chose to celebrate by visiting a museum that my coworkers were really excited about. Enjoy this selection of videos and photos from Museum Speelklok!

The yellow banner outside Museum Speelklok. Underneath it is another banner featuring Pinokkio as a silhouette on a green background.
The yellow banner outside Museum Speelklok. Underneath it is another banner featuring Pinokkio as a silhouette on a green background.
The front doors to the museum. The building is made of brick and has an archway. The left door says "Museum" and the right door says "Speelklok."
The front doors to the museum. The building is made of brick and has an archway. The left door says “Museum” and the right door says “Speelklok.”
An automated organ with automated violins inside of it. The top cabinet of the organ is open to display the violins. The lovely tour guide is standing to the left of the organ.
An automated organ with automated violins inside of it. The top cabinet of the organ is open to display the violins. The lovely tour guide is standing to the left of the organ.
A close-up of the violins in the organ. The violins are set up to lean towards the bow when they're supposed to play and lean backwards again when they're not, which is the opposite of how you usually play a violin. Each violin only plays on one string. The other two strings on the violins are there for aesthetical purposes.
A close-up of the violins in the organ. The violins are set up to lean towards the bow when they’re supposed to play and lean backwards again when they’re not, which is the opposite of how you usually play a violin. Each violin only plays on one string. The other two strings on the violins are there for aesthetical purposes.
A wall of musical boxes inside glass cabinets mounted on the wall.
A wall of musical boxes inside glass cabinets mounted on the wall.
A close-up of one musical box. It is played with a comb, which is located inside the box. On the lid of the box there is a white card with words and flowers.
A close-up of one musical box. It is played with a comb, which is located inside the box. On the lid of the box there is a white card with words and flowers.
A tabletop-like musical clock that was probably owned by a family with money in the ~1700s.
A tabletop-like musical clock that was probably owned by a family with money in the ~1700s.
A tabletop-like clock probably owned by a king or queen in the ~1800s. The images on the clock move while the music is playing. The figures on the clock are building coffins; the passing of time was associated with death, so much of the imagery on clocks revolve around themes of death.
A tabletop-like clock probably owned by a king or queen in the ~1800s. The images on the clock move while the music is playing. The figures on the clock are building coffins; the passing of time was associated with death, so much of the imagery on clocks revolve around themes of death.
Three "Speelkloken" -- essentially musical grandfather clocks. These clocks are what Museum Speelklok are named after. The one on the left is white with a black clock face. The one in the middle is brown, taller and skinnier. The one on the right is also brown, slightly shorter, and slightly wider.
Three “Speelkloken” — essentially musical grandfather clocks. These clocks are what Museum Speelklok are named after. The one on the left is white with a black clock face. The one in the middle is brown, taller and skinnier. The one on the right is also brown, slightly shorter, and slightly wider.
The inner-workings of a large church bell located in the museum. It takes a lot of fine-tuning to make each of the individual bells sound just right, and towns were very proud of their bells and in competition for who had the best bell. Bells would give a warning and then start chiming the time so that it was more difficult to lose count of rings. The bell in the museum is set up so that it always rings like it's one o'clock.
The inner-workings of a large church bell located in the museum. It takes a lot of fine-tuning to make each of the individual bells sound just right, and towns were very proud of their bells and in competition for who had the best bell. Bells would give a warning and then start chiming the time so that it was more difficult to lose count of rings. The bell in the museum is set up so that it always rings like it’s one o’clock.
The Wintergatan Marble Machine! It is made primarily of light-colored wood and is fenced off with string.
The Wintergatan Marble Machine! It is made primarily of light-colored wood and is fenced off with string.
A close-up of the text on the front of the machine. The words "Wintergatan Marble Machine" are made out of wire.
A close-up of the text on the front of the machine. The words “Wintergatan Marble Machine” are made out of wire.
The left side of the machine. There are many gears visible on this side, as well as the xylophone.
The left side of the machine. There are many gears visible on this side, as well as the xylophone.
The right side of the machine. Gears are visible as well as the wooden violin on the lower part of the machine.
The right side of the machine. Gears are visible as well as the wooden violin on the lower part of the machine.
A close-up of the violin on the machine. It is made of unfinished wood.
A close-up of the violin on the machine. It is made of unfinished wood.
A view of the top floor of the museum from above. The Wintergatan Marble Machine is in the lower left of the photo, and many smaller machines are in glass cases throughout the floor.
A view of the top floor of the museum from above. The Wintergatan Marble Machine is in the lower left of the photo, and many smaller machines are in glass cases throughout the floor.
My reflection in the mirror in the back of a cabinet. I am short with short black hair and am wearing a purple shirt with a large black messenger bag. There are some music boxes in the cabinet.
My reflection in the mirror in the back of a cabinet. I am short with short black hair and am wearing a purple shirt with a large black messenger bag. There are some music boxes in the cabinet.

#Caturday — A Day With The Cats Of Amsterdam 

I basically spent my entire Saturday with cats. I went to the Cat Boat (De Poezenboot) and the Cat Museum (Kattenkabinet). Here’s a selection of cat photos!

 

A sign on top of the boat that says "De Poezenboot/The Catboat." The boat's logo, a red buoy with a tabby cat inside of it, is on either side of the sign.
A sign on top of the boat that says “De Poezenboot/The Catboat.” The boat’s logo, a red buoy with a tabby cat inside of it, is on either side of the sign.
A white and tabby cat playing with a rainbow-colored toy mouse.
A white and tabby cat playing with a rainbow-colored toy mouse.
A white and tabby cat licking its lips.
A white and tabby cat licking its lips.
A tuxedo cat sitting on the catio outside the boat.
A tuxedo cat sitting on the catio outside the boat.
A long-haired gray cat with fangs perched on top of a scratching post.
A long-haired gray cat with fangs perched on top of a scratching post.
An orange stripey cat inside a cage smiling. This cat is up for adoption.
An orange stripey cat inside a cage smiling. This cat is up for adoption.
A chubby tabby cat enjoying its back being pet.
A chubby tabby cat enjoying its back being pet.
A tiny black kitten with huge ears sitting in a basket.
A tiny black kitten with huge ears sitting in a basket.
The tiny black kitten in the basket meowing.
The tiny black kitten in the basket meowing.
A tuxedo tabby crawling out from under a cage and looking upward.
A tuxedo tabby crawling out from under a cage and looking upward.
A white cat with black spots in a cage. This cat had been recently brought in off the street and it cautious around people.
A white cat with black spots in a cage. This cat had been recently brought in off the street and it is cautious around people.
The chubby tabby cat playing with a gray toy mouse.
The chubby tabby cat playing with a gray toy mouse.
A painting of a tuxedo cat in a wicker basket located in the Cat Museum.
A painting of a tuxedo cat in a wicker basket located in the Cat Museum.
A white cat with gray ears poses next to a stature of a cat in the cat museum. They are almost in the same pose. View from the side.
A white cat with gray ears poses next to a stature of a cat in the cat museum. They are almost in the same pose. View from the side.
A white cat with gray ears poses next to a stature of a cat in the cat museum. They are almost in the same pose. View from the front.
A white cat with gray ears poses next to a stature of a cat in the cat museum. They are almost in the same pose. View from the front.
The white cat stretches out on the table looking for scritches.
The white cat stretches out on the table looking for scritches.
A hutch covered in notes and cat plushies from visitors.
A hutch covered in notes and cat plushies from visitors.
A note from myself left on the table. It reads: "
A note from myself left on the table. It reads: “<3 from Oregon! Benni and: Benny (1992-2009) Freckles (1998-2008) Thunder (2009-) Misty (2009-) Coco (2015-)” with a drawing of a cat face.
A painting where a wizard conjures up a giant black cat that is terrorizing the town and residents are running away screaming.
A painting where a wizard conjures up a giant black cat that is terrorizing the town and residents are running away screaming.
A big tuxedo cat with a white mask lying on its back and stretching out on the couch.
A big tuxedo cat with a white mask lying on its back and stretching out on the couch.
Me, wearing a green shirt and a black skirt and holding a black shoulder bag, sitting next to the tuxedo cat on the couch.
Me, wearing a green shirt and a black skirt and holding a black shoulder bag, sitting next to the tuxedo cat on the couch.
The tuxedo cat happily flopping over on its side on the couch.
The tuxedo cat happily flopping over on its side on the couch.
A view of the garden outside the Cat Museum from the stairs. There is shrubbery arranged into patterns and pictures surrounding the garden.
A view of the garden outside the Cat Museum from the stairs. There is shrubbery arranged into patterns and pictures surrounding the garden.
A picture in the garden of a cartoon black cat with green eyes holding up a spool of red thread that is starting to unravel.
A picture in the garden of a cartoon black cat with green eyes holding up a spool of red thread that is starting to unravel.
A Philips ad of a tuxedo cat looking at a television with a big fish on the screen.
A Philips ad of a tuxedo cat looking at a television with a big fish on the screen.
A white cat with black spots taking a bath in the garden.
A white cat with black spots taking a bath in the garden.
A different white cat with black spots taking a nap in the sun on a table in the garden.
A different white cat with black spots taking a nap in the sun on a table in the garden.

This Is Not My Space: A Visit to the Jewish Cultural Quarter in Amsterdam 

TW for Holocaust discussion and suicide mention.

[Transcription: 8/27/17

It’s Sunday now. I spent Friday primarily in the Jewish Cultural Quarter and needed a couple days to process.

I feel pretty uncomfortable recording thoughts from visiting the National Holocaust Museum and the Jewish Heritage Museum because I am not Jewish and I strongly feel that it isn’t my place. These spaces are Jewish spaces, and I am a visitor. I do think it’s important that I visit these places, which is why I did. These places are rich with a beautiful culture and a lot of reminders of tragedy. I learned a lot about Judaism and about the rest of us — those who are either directly targeting Jewish people and those who are watching. I stood a pane of glass away from a foosball-type game that belonged to a young child. A young girl’s heart-shaped locket. Several diaries, one of which almost got cut up for the pictures. Articles of clothing. None of these kids survived being kids. They’re gone.

Then I spent an hour with Annemie and Helmuth Wolff. They were young photographers whose work was thought to be lost but was found preserved in a box. Helmuth was Jewish and the couple lost hope for their survival during the Holocaust and attempted suicide together. Helmuth died, but Annemie survived and lived about another 50 years. Their work largely centered around the airport, though Annemie did a lot of cooking magazine photography and even modeling. Her later work was all portrait work — her last several rolls were hundreds of portraits of people from the Holocaust, not all of whom were identified. The museum left space for people who recognized unidentified people to help identify them, and several of the nameless were given names.

This is not my space. I am a guest. It’s still important for me to see. We’re often taught misleading or wrong histories instead of looking them in the face even though we need to do the latter to keep from repeating ourselves. We need to do better.

Thank you to my Jewish friends for letting me visit your space — I hope I’ve been as respectful as I’ve been trying to be.]