November 30, 2009

Epic weekend of FOOOD

So I got to have Thanksgiving after all. E took pity on me and asked her friends who were having a Thanksgiving dinner if I could come along. They fortunately let me join them and it was a wonderful time. The hosts were really cool and it was great to meet a whole bunch of new people. Funfunfun. The FOOOOD: a proper, whole turkey, baked in their big oven, the usual sides: cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, carrots, stuffing, gravy, roast potatoes and pumpkin.... Total feast. And pumpkin and pecan pies for dessert. My first ever pecan pie. 'Twas yum. The DRINK: coffee with Kahlua, champagne with Disaronno-soaked mandarin pieces, Hemel op Aarde liqueur, homemade cherry liqueur.... I missed out on the white russians, unfortunately, but I had my first ever Bloody Mary. I wasn't so keen on it, maybe because I don't really like tomato juice.

That was Saturday, then yesterday a group of us went to the Christmas market in Cologne. We shuffled through 3 of the markets which got cozier as night fell and the lights came on. It was cheery. I didn't really buy any gifts, I mostly just bought FOOOD, like 2 servings of Käsespätzle, potato pancakes with applesauce (delicious greasy/crispy goodness), apfelstrudel, and boozy eggnog with whipped cream. I didn't manage to fit in a bratwurst. Perhaps that is for the best. We all fell asleep on the train home.

Dinner tonight is gonna be so lame. I think I need to make potato pancakes soon.

November 26, 2009

A conclusion, 12 years later

Some backstory for my main story: In 1996, it apparently was (I thought it was maybe a bit later), I went to a book signing in Portland by Kevin Canty, for his new book, Into the Great Wide Open. I must have read about it in the paper or something, it's not like I usually went to signings. I was totally captured by the passages he read, so I bought a copy of the book, even though I was a poor student, and had it signed. I loved the book and it influenced me a lot over the next couple of years. In one of my college classes, I even wrote a poem based on the book. I also gathered my nerves and sent a copy of the poem to Kevin Canty. He never replied though, which I still thought about over the years, wondering why he didn't reply, or whether he even got the letter.

Fast forward to last Friday: It was the first day of the Crossing Border festival and Kevin was going to be appearing for a reading. I'd seen him listed in the program and thought it was too bad he wasn't appearing on the day I'd be at the fest. But then I got an email from someone I know who was also going to be seeing the Decemberists on Saturday, she was saying that she was excited because her friend Kevin Canty was at the fest and she was heading to meet up with him. I wrote an email to her explaining the story above and then on Saturday night, I ended up being introduced to Kevin. I didn't tell him how much his book stuck with me, or ask him about the poem I sent or anything. A couple of days later though: he added me as a friend on Facebook. Ack! It was just so bizarre. So I had no choice but to send him the poem. I did, and he said he enjoyed it. Before anyone asks, here it is:

Kenny, with Blue Lips

The envelope of nudes snuck out,
Uncamoflaged soldiers marching before your eyes
Turned by my uncontrolled hand, doubt
Tensing my shoulder you touched in the October moon.

At the canal, pregnant gray of early winter
Seeped into us as my worm of a scar
Wiggled out, stopped by your icicle finger,
Leaving a "ssshh" mark still felt in June.

My camera captured that day, your lips
So blue even in black and white, a stolen
Sideshot of a living corpse.
I later exposed you in the silent darkroom,
The orange light like the lamps at dinner that night
Melting the blue out of you, the secrets staying behind.

So, there, 12 years later, the author of the book I based the poem on finally, definitely saw the poem. It's just so weird, kind of like meeting Damien Jurado recently who my friend knows and played with, and thinking back to seeing him play ages ago in a long-dead all-ages club in Portland, only knowing his name at the time, and calculating that it must have been around that time that my friend was recording with him, and now here we all were coming together on another continent. It's mad, life.

It turns out that Colin Meloy was indeed in a class of Kevin Canty's in the writing program at the University of Montana, though Kevin doesn't remember Colin. But he enjoyed the Decemberists's gig at Crossing Border, as did, I think, everyone else there.

November 16, 2009

Feeling dejected

Last week I found out that a co-worker is moving to Australia. I was talking with her about her plans, of which I'm very envious. She also fell in love with the country during a working holiday and has just been biding her time in Holland with her Dutch boyfriend (whom she met on the holiday), dreaming of heading back. Her boyfriend is actually almost more eager to move back than she is. When she gets there, she'll do some extra study and get back into the area she loves. Also, they are moving to Melbourne. *sigh* I often get so frustrated with my situation that it's hard for me not to get emotional while talking about my plans. Especially when people suggest one way or another to get there, most of which are options I don't have. I know they are just trying to help, but it makes the frustration more acute.

The frustration was particularly bad last week since I came to the conclusion that I likely will not be able to move by the end of 2010 like I'd been planning. Part of that is due to financial reasons. The other part is because there are places I want to go to in Europe before I leave, plus I am getting itchy to visit home. And unfortunately the 2nd part is bad for the 1st part. So I don't think I'll even start looking for a job until late 2010, as opposed to the spring like I was going to. It's not the end of the world, and admittedly I felt relieved to push it back a bit, but I still feel like adjusting my plans is some slippery slope towards not moving at all, though I know that's silly.

November 3, 2009

Week in review

Last Tuesday - After work picked up E in Utrecht and then headed down to Den Bosch to see Damien Jurado play. The show was very good, he played solo, so the songs were quite powerful, with his voice echoing around the theater. He played Medication, one of my favorite songs and one I don't think I've heard live before. Someone took a better video of it than the one I made.

We talked to him a bit before and after the show, he recognized me from when we saw him in Amsterdam earlier this year, which was nice. E and I then trudged back to Utrecht.

Wednesday - A lovely, relaxing day in Utrecht. Sat around chatting for awhile and getting some anti-stress therapy from the cats making rounds between our laps. Hit a couple of vintage shops in town, though I did not find the Perfect Winter Coat. Went to Bond en Smolders for coffee with lots of whipped cream and a pastry. Nabbed some of their gevulde speculaas. Popped by Ekko and found Damien's wife, Sarah. Ended up chatting with both of them outside next to the canal before heading off to Amsterdam to see The Thermals. Grabbed dinner first at Getto (burrrgerrrrrs). The show was fun, very energetic, of course, and the crowd was really into it.

Thursday - My birthday. It didn't feel like it by the end though. Went out with people from work in the evening because of two people leaving. First went to Wynand Fockink for liqueurs, then had an Indonesian rijsttafel for dinner. I probably should have stopped at the liqueurs, I was so tired during dinner.

Friday - A bunch of people leaving work and having sweets for their goodbyes, and some Halloween candy, meant I was buzzed on sugar all day. Had fun carving my pumpkin that evening and managed to do it without cutting a finger off.

Saturday - Downloaded the old Charlie Brown and Garfield Halloween specials and watched them for the first time in ages. The Charlie Brown one was kind of boring, but the Garfield one was actually pretty funny in places. The pirate ghost part that always freaked me out as a kid was disappointing to watch because the glowy nature of them was too high-contrast in the video, so you couldn't really see what they looked like. I was surprised at how short of an amount of time the ghosts were in the episode.

In the evening, went to see some short films as part of the Leiden Film Fest. It was in an (unheated) chapel in St. Elisabeth Hospital. As expected, it was a mixed bag. The two animated films (The Pierce Sisters and El Empleo) were both awesome and humorous and bizarre. Tanghi Argentini was very sweet. A couple others weren't really my thing.

Sunday - In the midst of baking a carrot cake, I went to see two films. There was this steady drizzle almost the entire day, so I got pretty wet on my way to and from the first film, then I didn't really dry out before heading back for the second film, so I started out all cold and damp and only added to it. Fortunately I got a break on the way home from that film; the rain had finally stopped. I quite liked the first film, $9.99, a stop-motion movie about various people living in an apartment building. The second one, Gigantic, was ok, but it felt like an indie movie being quirky for quirky's sake. The leads were cute at least.