I haven't been writing much this month, which I suppose is due to January being rather busy, if anything because of the amount of birthdays which means a dinner or a party nearly every weekend. Even though I've been busy, it feels like it's been a very long month and I keep being surprised that it's still January. About time for it to finally end.
So, what have we been up to then? Most recently, O had drinks for his birthday on Saturday night, though it was his birthday a week earlier. A fairly large group turned out, despite some last-minute cancellations, and we had a good evening.
One friend gave O a Moleskine for his birthday and those little buggers have been popping up a lot lately. I only really saw them for the first time at a paper shop in the Negen Straatjes when I was Christmas shopping in mid-December. The name sounded familiar and I coveted those simple little books (and they came in so many styles!), but then I coveted many of the blank books in that shop. I was in the paper shop again about a week later and ended up giving in and buying myself a pocket Moleskine, not really a notebook but a sort of small accordion file in the same Moleskine cover which you can use to store tickets and receipts and whatnot. I think it'll be a fixture on my holiday packing lists from now on. But then at a Secret Santa lunch I went to, someone brought a Moleskine as a gift, and now O has received one. They've become popular quite quickly...
Also on Saturday O and I helped a colleague of mine move. It all went very quick, though it helped that she had no furniture to move. Her old place is on the 3rd floor, so rather than exhaust ourselves on the stairs, we set up a chain so that each person only had to go up and down one flight. It worked really well and we were done in half an hour. We unloaded into her new house in about half that time and then we went to a nice cafe on the Overtoom where I recharged on a yummy tuna salad sandwich and a slice of cheesecake.
Slightly more fun times with my colleagues were to be had a few weeks ago when we had our company party. Since we had a very successful year last year, they wanted to throw a bigger party than we had in 2005, so we all had the afternoon off for an event that was kept secret until it started. It turned out to be a scavenger hunt through Amsterdam that we competed in in teams of about 5-6. It was put together by a company so it was all well planned and very sneaky. Each team first had to go to the lockers at Centraal Station where we got a little briefcase with gadgets and instructions. We had high-tech things like a mini-computer, GPS unit and mobile phone, but also things like a compass and tape measure. We were lead on quite a large path, going to the Dam, the Spui, the Red Light District and back to the Dam and Damrak. The organizers kept track of us and would show they were watching us by calling or SMSing us on the phone and referring to something a team member had just said or done. It really made you paranoid. At the end of the day we found out we'd been filmed all day and at times the one taping us was right behind us, but we never knew. I loved the whole thing, and even as we were in the middle of it I was thinking how great it is to do something like this in a city like Amsterdam because you start to wonder who is part of the game and who is not. After hours of walking around and knowing you're being watched, you start to get suspicious about anyone who comes up to you, so when a homeless guy came up to my team on the Dam (as we were trying to measure the distance between the lions in front of the national monument, one of the silly things we had to do) and he mumbled some nonsense to us, I did wonder "Is he part of this? Is he spying on us? Or is he just the usual kind of weirdo you find around Amsterdam?" At the end of it all, we headed over to a boat cafe on the IJ and there were drinks, dinner, dancing and a lot more drinks.
As for the future, in about two weeks O and I will go on our short break to Berlin. And I'm trying to plan a trip to Portland for the spring. I'll hopefully talk to my mom tonight and set some dates. I'd like to take advantage of the long Hemelvaart weekend in May, which is a good time to go weather-wise as well. The last time I called my mom we discussed going to the coast because I realized that I haven't been to the beach since O's first visit in 2000. Which still seems impossible to me, that I've not gone to the beach for so long. So I want to go and I discussed with my mom how we've not seen much of the southern Oregon coast, so it'd be nice to go there and see some new towns. It made me happy to hear her sound excited about the plans.