Monthly Archives: August 2016

Sunday in Hungary

Hello from the Hungarian countryside. It is nearly 8 pm and the sun has gone down. GG has gone off with her camera down the dirt road between the cornfields on safari. As for me, I decided this morning that I would spend this first day entirely on the property of this little guesthouse. The furthest I have gone today is to take the recycling to the shared bin. I felt like I needed to set this goal for myself so that I could look back in a week’s time and say “See, there was a day that you actually did nothing more than serve coffee to your hosts, read through your magazine stash and be outside”. You know, because I have these tendencies to treat vacation like a checklist of things to see.

It helps that the internet here is very sporadic. You need to stand precisely in a certain corner to connect and then if you are lucky the signal is strong enough to download the headers of email messages. This means I certainly won’t be uploading any pictures until I get back ๐Ÿ˜‰

We’re the last guests here. The owners have sold it and are leaving next month after ten years. They have a grandson now and this location is too remote for their family to visit easily. I can understand that since it feels like you really are in the middle of nowhere. The loudest sounds are the crickets and frogs, with the exception of the nightly chorus of the dogs in the surrounding countryside. Last night I thought I heard a cow. It turns out I did. The house down the road has two cows and some goats.

The stars here are unbelievable. This is an advantage of there being so little artificial light. Everything is very ordered and manicured. Our host was telling us that Hungarians are very house proud and every extra cent that they earn goes back into some sort of home improvement project. The region that we are in is not flat at all, there are hills for miles and even in the distance it appears that there might be a small mountain.

The Hungarian language is in the same language family as Finnish and Estonian. These three languages compose their own group. I can tell you that I can’t find any similarities so far with English except for the word for supermarket. In Hungarian it is Szupermarket. If learning Dutch was difficult, I imagine Hungarian would be even harder.

They are little people too. Stocky and compact, men and women alike. I feel like a giant. GG is probably 4 inches taller than I am so you can imagine that sight of the two of us is probably shocking. We’ll find out when we do some exploring. It is so quiet out here, I can hear her footsteps coming up the dirt road. At least, I think that is her.

Hungary uses florins instead of euros. Yesterday, at the airport, I ordered an espresso and a San Pellegrino and it was 1500 florins. I paid with a 5000 florin bill, which I was concerned would be difficult to exchange – until I realized that the ATM had also given me bills of 20,000 florins. To put this into scale, my beverages cost the equivalent of 3.5 euros. We did our entire grocery shopping for less than 30 euros. I don’t think that this is a vacation that we will have to worry about paying off for months at a time.

Hmm, is there a swimup bar?

I have the movie “The Three Musketeers”playing in the background. The one starring Keifer Sutherland, Charlie Sheen and Rebecca de Mornay. Movies are more fun sometimes if you only hear the sound. It is super hot today and I am close to having another brain resembles grilled cheese moment!

Why? Well, I made it through the first round interview and tomorrow is the second round, the technical. In addition to the technical side of it, I also need to have a short presentation prepared on the topic so they can see what my stage presence is like. Unfortunately, it is not going to be as fantastic as these womenย . ย Unlike Yvonne and Helen, who we saw in their wonderful strangeness at De Parade this past weekend, I can only wish I could achieve this sort of diva fabulousness.

Marianne and I have a yearly tradition of going at least one night together to De Parade every year – we then usually go again with other people. Saturday was our night. The weather was sunny and great and we sat on an unused stage with a bottle of wine (or two) and GG. It remains one of my favorite experiences of summer in the Netherlands – it must because we go year after year ๐Ÿ™‚

Vacation is fast approaching, hence the swimup bar reference. Of course, now I am waffling and coming up with all kinds of puritanical reasons about why I don’t really need to go. I’ll let those thoughts run riot in my head and not actually act on them. We leave on Saturday and I really need to get smarter and actually take some days off before I leave. Oh well, remind me of that for next year ๐Ÿ˜‰

I also had the guilty pleasure of going to a TributeParty in a village outside of Nijmegen on Saturday. A tribute party is basically a concert performed by cover bands. It is a big phenomen here. Sunday’s cover bands were Dire Straits, Beach Boys and Bon Jovi. I will admit this here, the Bon Jovi cover band was excellent… I know, I know. I was transported back to the 8th grade and rocking out. That’s what happens when you spend a great deal of time with someone who is a musician (GG). It rained buckets but they had the good sense to have an enormous industrial tent and other than getting muddy feet, it was a pretty good evening. I did realize something – the village life is definitely not for me. I am a big city person and I don’t see myself moving out of Amsterdam to the countryside any time soon. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Today I was in Apeldoorn for a customer meeting. Tomorrow, the big interview and several other meetings. Friday is the day where it all has to come together in terms of finishing everything up for work.

Henry is doing fine. It turns out his back toenails had grown really quickly and he needed a pedicure. He didn’t care much for that experience but he was quickly back to his old self. Both boys are sitting here looking up at me and waiting for their tortilla with the sad eyes that only they can get away with.

Hello again

I am wrestling again tonight. This time between going to the gym and not doing so. I’ve got an interview tomorrow so the logical side of my brain says “You will need a good night’s sleep, so go to the gym and work out the anxiety”. The other side says “You’ve spent all day preparing for this interview, including making a slide – better switch your brain off and stay home and read while serving as a pet cushion”. Sometimes, the arguments really are that basic.

Then again, I am not really sure if this is a sign that my mental capacities are truly slowing down or if I need a vacation. Mine starts 27 August so that will be the litmus test. If, after 3 weeks, I don’t feel recharged, then I might start to worry. I was explaining to GG the other night that I feel like I am stuck in the middle of so many different choices and I really want there to be movement. This is kind of silly since movement is happening, only not fast enough for my liking.

Last Tuesday, I surprised GG with an evening in The Hague to see Henry Rollins at the outdoor theatre in the Zuiderpark. The weather was good. We had front row seats and it felt good to see him again. I have been going to see Rollins since I was 17 so I feel very much that we have grown up together in many ways. When I was much younger, reading his books made me feel like someone else knew what it was like to feel isolated and alienated. He gave me ways to describe how I thought about the world and opened my mind up to exploring further ideas. Now I feel like we are checking in with each other, both older, greyer and slightly more insightful about the experiences we have had. It’s a connection point, a conversation with each other. We don’t have to know each other but we understand each other.

Speaking of conversations, Dylan was here on Thursday evening and Friday on his way back from Central Europe to the US. Thursday night he shared his political views with me and pictures of his trip. I shared alot of gin with tonic. Friday night we met Sjoerd and sat on a terrace before going for cheese fondue. In contrast to Thursday’s wintry rains, Friday evening was sunny and we spent a couple of hours on a terrace at Nieuwmarkt people watching.

On Sunday, GG and I went with the meetup to go boating in the canals. It was a great way to see Amsterdam. Everyone brought snacks and drinks and we had two boats of ten. I took the helm on the last bit back and got to not only turn in the middle of the canal but also parallel park. It was pretty good. I reached deep into my memory of pushing back airplanes and how slowly and widely they turn.

Henry is not feeling so good. He stayed home from his outing with Kate today because he seems to be favoring his hind legs. He will be staying home tomorrow too. Dachshunds and their very long backs… I really try to keep a close watch on him. He’s eating though and isn’t yelping or anything. If it’s not better after a few days of rest, you know where we will be going… the vet.

I’ll let you know how the interview goes tomorrow … gulp…

Love Wins

Yesterday was the Canal Parade, marking the finale of Pride. This year, Amsterdam was also host to Euro Pride so the celebrations and events were even higher. There was also alot of worry that this would be a very big target for people who had definite disagreements with Western thinking and norms. I think this is probably what motivated me to go most – being able to celebrate and be visible inย the world.

There were 80 boats going through the parade. The one that struck me the most was the one from the COC. Compared to some of the others, it was positively plain and boring. And that’s exactly what made the message so important. This was the boat that made me tear up a little, overwhelmed by the fact that I could be openly celebrating yesterday or any other day with my chosen significant other. That we have as much right to live under the same laws and privileges that are accorded everyone here. We’re not special or an exception, we’re just us. There are so many places in the world where this is not an option or that people don’t have that kind of freedom. I was a little verklemmt as they used to say on Saturday Night Live.

This message is more than LGBT oriented, it is a very simple fact – nothing else we do is as important as loving others. The ability to love shapes our thoughts, our words and our actions. If it is not at the basis of each thing we do, then things begin to go wrong. Whether it’s for your partner, your child, your parent, your pets, your friendly neighborhood barista, it doesn’t matter – it only needs to be and to be brought to life. From there, it will take shape and change the world in it’s own way.

I thought of Raven alot yesterday. In part because he often worried that love had some sort of rationing system – 10% to you and 10% to so and so. I used to tell him that love is something that grows through use, it doesn’t get smaller. The more you love, the more love you will have to give.

Pride ends today.I spent it in a way that I was free to do so – reading the paper and watching the Olympics with GG, walking the dogs, taking my bike to get a new tire and simply enjoying my life. And if that’s not a fine way to celebrate Pride and acceptance, I don’t know what is – it is the freedom to be who you are, whomever that may be ๐Ÿ™‚