A tiny future librarian’s introduction to studying abroad featuring mispronounced words, childhood video games, and Coco the tuxedo cat.
It’s been a month since I came back home from the Netherlands. Here’s a closing video for that chapter of my life!
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”]
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.
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 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!
First I take you up the stairs to my hotel room! Then you get to hear me be sentimental and geek out over A/V technologies!
This video was taken on Wednesday 23 August 2017, and I just now found the time to edit it. I’m in a different hotel now! On the first floor! With straight staircases!
TW for Holocaust discussion and suicide mention.
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.]
[caption: a sped-up video taken from a boat as it crosses a canal at about 6 PM in Amsterdam. There are buildings in the background and other boats on the water that are visible as the boat the video was taken from crosses the canal.]