Monday, October 30, 2006

My Last Post About Midterms or Is Aspertame Supposed to Burn Like This?

So I only have one midterm left. I think it is probably not that difficult and I hope that I can just sit down and write it (I hope this in spite of the fact that has taken me on average six days to write each of my other midterms). Unfortunately, I seeth with rage at the very thought of the class I am writing it for. Ok, that was probably too florid. But this teacher is Dance Instructor Crazy plus a dash of Obsessive Poststructuralism. She believes that technology (namely flash animation) will *finally* enable performance to be studied academically. Yet she does not know how to turn on the overhead projector in her classroom. Or, I suspect, the lights. She once singled me out in class to ask, "What do you think about postmodernism in New York City?"
"Well, in New York City we think postmodernism is...."
or maybe
'When in New York I think postmodernism is..."
I mean, the woman is nuts.

I also wanted to take this moment to thank 1.5 litre bottles of generic diet cola (29 cents each!) and brand x sugarfree gum with xylitol (42 cents for 36 pieces!) for making this midterm season possible. The unfortunate side effects of lying in bed shaking for several minutes each night and the noticable burning sensation around my gums aside, I really couldn't have done it without them. Is it possible that generic soda has more caffine than brand name soda? Maybe Wikipedia knows. I'm sure I'll check as my first order of procrastination bussiness this evening.

On a (mostly) different note, there has been an interesting development in the ongoing saga of Gross Dutch Food. The Dutch equivalent of Andy Capp's Hot Fries is even less flavorful than its American counterpart. But just as addictive.

And finally I would like to sum up the low points of this midterm season:
1. Drinking coffee while in the shower. This is now probably the only way I'll be able to get up in the morning. It takes some maneuvering when it comes to shampoo, I'd imagine. But I'm just guessing because:
2. Not washing my hair for six days. My haircut still looks good though. Well, relatively speaking.
3. Cooking pancakes for the first time (ever) I actually don't really like pancakes so it was just unabashed procrastination. I also made chili, curry, homefries, soup and pasta. Not all at once, but time at the stove is time not at the computer.
4. Telling my flatmates I couldn't have lunch because I was studying when I was actually watching Top Model on YouTube. Brooke!

Saturday, October 28, 2006

I haven't finished

So I am still working on midterms. And I am really far behind. But I liked this a lot.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

"Actually, I got them all cut."

So in what is most certainly my most expensive procrastination technique yet, I got a haircut today (38 euros. Could have been worse). I asked Yvette, who also got her's done, whether the short layers in the front and length down the back made it look like a she-mullet (I have secretely thought every haircut I have had in the last two years might be a she-mullet). Serves me right asking a European (African?), since she didn't know what a mullet was to begin with. And so, I submit to you, dear readers.... My Haircut.

(Midterms certainly make me a more consistent blogger. I haven't written so often since before I had friends here.)

Sunday, October 22, 2006


Although school generally provides me with ample procrastination fodder (this blog might be considered an example), I now have a week off from classes to concentrate on midterms, which in my case involves writing four papers. This means that my procrastination activities are much more ambitious and time consuming. Although my only study goal for the evening was to watch the rest of Apocalypse Now (I have to write a paper on it, I swear), I managed to spend about two and a half hours editing and posting the video below. Which provides footage of my procrastination on Thursday night (as well as the reason for the hangover alluded to in Friday's post). By posting this video here, I am taking Eating Pie Elsewhere in a whole new direction. Not only will it be a way to keep my friends at home informed of my activities, but it will also be a forum for embarrassing my new friends here! So expect lots more drunken videos and unflattering candid photos in the future!

Friday, October 20, 2006


I just wanted to take a minute to share some things I think are particularly good, in no particular order.

Colgate 360 Toothbrush Josh thinks the well padded, expertly shaped body of the brush makes it supreme. I think it's the GENIUS incorporation of a rubber tongue brush. Were it not for the pesky gag reflexes that prevent me from brushing the portion of my tongue under my tonsils, I believe the Colgate 360 could eliminate hangovers entirely (ok, the Colgate 360, coffee and ibuprophen).

Spa & Fruit Spa is the major purveyor of bottled water here in the Netherlands. Generally, the most common varieties are Rood (red cap, sparkling) and Blauw (blue cap, still). The confusing Marie Henriette variety (was it named in some bizarro competition?) appears to be a "light carbonation." But really the jewel in the crown of the Spa Empire is Spa & Fruit, which is basically sparkling water and fruit juice. Which cuts out a step in the process of buying seltzer AND fruit juice. It also doesn't have the sugar of those fruity sodas (though my passion for Fanta Pomelo could hardly considered dampened). It's available in many flavors, but I have yet to attempt white grape or lemon and cactus (what kind of cactus??). Mostly I go for orange. Which tastes just like the combination my mother gave me as a child, telling me it was soda.

The New Anti-Bacterial Soap in the Kitchen Mostly I believe the kitchen in my flat to be one very small step above a sesspool in terms of cleanliness. I can practically SEE the germs dying as I squirt this blue liquid onto the sponge. Besides hygiene, the soap has a very pleasant aroma. In fact, it smells exactly like the soap Josh uses in the shower. Although when I commented on this similarity to my flatmates I think it sounded a little pathological.

Fixing Your Own Bike (hearsay) Ok, so I failed. But it was exhilarating and empowering. Biking in and of itself is empowering. But really, it's not as easy as it looks to change a bike tire (I think it's easier to change a car tire).

Afternoon Naps (especially on Friday) Add this to the list of hangover cures. You get up, get hydrated, eat, get some tasks accomplished (going to the bike repair shop could be an example) and then go back to sleep for an hour. When you wake up, you're as fresh as a daisy. (Can anyone sense that today I might have "relearned" my lesson about how drinking rum makes me feel in the morning?)

Autumn in New York City I'm gonna be honest: New York can be a virtual pit of despair in the summer and winter time (it's just not the kind of place where you want to rely on artificial climate control). But in the in between seasons the majesty of the city sort of explodes everywhere. In Spring and Autumn there's actually NATURE in New York. You can see it poking out of little unexpected places (like the trees on that median strip on Houston across from my old apartment) or you can completely soak yourself in it in the parks (if you're feeling adventurous, check out the foliage at the Cloisters!). I am partial to autumn because of the color palate and the central role of pie on seasonal menus. And somehow it just matches the buildings and the smells and the rivers so well. Maybe I'm a little homesick.

Monday, October 16, 2006

New Segment: Big Girl Plays Dress-Up

Currently I just write a blog. There is no greater organizational structure than blog or not blog. As of today, all that's going to change. My first regular segment (segments will henceforth be designated by italics, my only html skill) is going to feature me playing dress-up. Essentially. Basically sometimes I am going to put on a funny outfit and/or do my make-up all crazy and ask for your critiques. This is in honor of my recent dedication to fashion-related reality television programming. Basically I am never watching current episodes, so commenting on the programs themselves would be boring. Instead I am going to interpret the ideas of such shows in my own way. Which makes you the expert panel of judges (except for that person who asked if I wanted to be a secret shopper. S/he is banned from the panel). Please be honest and tell me what you think of the "concept of the look." Whether it conveys a coherent mood, thought, emotion, etc. God only knows what such a concept might be. That will also be up to you. For now. Perhaps I will give themes in the future. So, without further ado, Big Girl Plays Dress-Up, Part 1:

Saturday, October 14, 2006

You Win Some...

I'd say that in general, I am a pretty good student. I do, however, have an eensy problem with time management and motivation. I ALWAYS write four papers in three days during finals. Because I have four pretty important assignements due in two weeks, I have decided to break my bad habits and stay in tonight. I have been surprisingly productive. Not only have I gotten a lot of my reading done for my classes this week, but I have a pretty good outline going for one of the big assignments. I submit to you photographic evidence of my productivity:

That's me! And I'm studying!

Another way I can measure my productivity is the fact the list of downloads on my Acquisition account has increased almost expontentially today. Embarassingly, "Soul Decision" and "Ignition Remix" both appear as search items.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Dear Thursday Night DJ at Club Meander,
You and I have had some good times together. Remember that time you played "Golddigger" by Kanye West and even Philippe from Belgium danced?* That was priceless! And I appreciate that by not charging a cover and having beers for a euro fifty you could not possibly be raking in the big bucks. But I do think that you need to put a little more consideration into what you play as a last song.
Although I have no personal experience with DJing, my philosophy of the "last song" is that it should be a sort of summary of the whole night. Memorable, fun, dancable but not dance music. This is why I just cannot comprehend why you would play "(Can You Feel) A Brand New Day" from The Wiz as your last song. Even allowing for some merry prankster slipping the CD into your collection at some point in the night, how could you THINK of playing showtunes? It wasn't Diana Ross night. It wasn't misguided disco night. Really, it's just baffling.
I think in the future you should steer clear of any song (last, first, in the middle) which might have been performed by a high school show choir.** No one wants to see (or be) that guy doing jazz squares on the dance floor in a fit of alcohol induced nostalgia.*** It's actually really quite a simple guideline. Sure, it rules out some great ones like "Night Fever" by the BeeGees but in the long run, I think we can say, "better safe than sorry."
I hope that you take this message to heart. I am going to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume this will never happen again. You will continue to play unimaginative top forties pop music and I will continue to endure the unwanted attentions of your male employees (though what those four guys actually *do* for you is beyond me). I am glad that me could work this out.

*I have made the (somewhat unscientific) observation while in Amsterdam that Belgian men are actually the WHITEST people on earth. Culturally (especially rhythmically) speaking. Not literally. That would be albinoes.


*** This statement has no bearing on the actual events that may have taken place at Club Meander this evening. Especially not ones involving "sunburst" arms and/or yours truely.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

(Written while taking a break from clipping Fixodent cupons)

I'm cheap and I don't like being out in the rain. These are really the chief driving impulses affecting my social life in Amsterdam. That and the fact that I only know about seven people. Thriftiness and the desire to stay dry, however, have lead me to discover (maybe rediscover?) the joys of pot luck dinners. Last night, for example, we had a dinner in my flat and everyone made a dish which was culturally typical of their country of origin. Embarrassing as it was to actually serve people American Chop Suey (as bland as I remember, but somewhat popular), Gerda, who brought a "Lithuanian Chocolate Bar," won out for least impressive (though it was tasty, it was distributed by Kraft foods). But it was also terrifically fun. And it cost me about three euros. And I didn't have to leave the house. I am going to another pot luck on Monday and we are going to start regularly having them on Wednesdays in the flat.
Along with my tendency to go to bed early and my drastically reduced alcohol tolerance levels, my enthusiasm for pot lucks seems to be a harbinger of early-onset elderliness. In fact, ever since I turned twenty-three I have felt a certain magnetism towards sedate, comfortable social interactions. I'm not tape recording Murder She Wrote yet, but don't be surprised if the next time you see me I'm wearing a skirt with a hem below my mid thigh... and organizing a pot luck dinner.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Week in Review

This week I have been away from the internet mostly because I had a visitor. It was nice, not only because I got to see Joshua, but also because I had the opportunity to do many "touristy" things in Amsterdam that I had been putting off. In fact, my week was so unusual it produced an entire LIST of highlights. By day:

Saturday- Culinary Vindication Because it nothing is opened on Sundays, we did some grocery shopping on Saturday after coming back from the airport. This gave me the opportunity to introduce evidence of the highs and lows of Dutch cuisine. Not only was Josh understandably repulsed by the "meat salad" (as far as I can tell it is cat food with a hardboiled egg and a flower-shaped carrot slice on top) but I also had the joy of presenting him with his very first stroopwaffle (I couldn't have been prouder).

Sunday- Surprise Bar The weather in Amsterdam can be.... tricky. Sunday was a beautiful day for the most part and we saw a lot of the old city on foot. After dinner, however, our weather luck ran thin. While walking through the Leidseplein (think very quaint Times Square with sex shows and lots of pot), a magnificent bolt of lightning tore through the sky. Then it started pouring. Josh and I hurried into the innocuously named "Cool Down Cafe" just a few steps away. It was dark and completely deserted except for about five male employees. After ordering drinks and settling in a little, we slowly began to realize that this bar had a very distinctive character. The employees were conducting some sort of sound check to compile music for the evening. At first I wrote off the disproportionate number of disco songs to European musical taste (it's sort of like house music, right?). Then I noticed that ALL of the staff were wearing tight denim cut-off shorts (like mid-thigh length). As I casually whispered this development to Josh, we both became suddenly aware of the stretched and yellowing thongs pinned to the wall in front of us (Josh referred to them as "banana hammocks" though I am not certain where he learned that term). My flatmate, Yvette, who grew up in Holland, insists that the Cool Down Cafe is not a gay bar but I say, the proof is in the pudding. Basically it was pretty much the most hilarious way to wait out the rain.

Monday- Adventure! One of the best things about being in Europe is how close so many things are. Hoping to take advantage of this, Josh and I set out early Monday morning for Texel, an island in the North Sea. Though the train ride there was excruciating (nearly three times as long as expected), the island itself was magnificent. After getting off the ferry we took a scenic (and somewhat roundabout) bus trip to an old lighthouse at the far end of the island (see photo). The inland areas were covered with picturesque sheep and flower farms (fields full of Lupin and Sunflowers!), many of the buildings had "traditional" thatched roofs. The beach surrounding the lighthouse was incredibly flat and at low tide looked completely surreal, like a tundra. We explored Den Burg, the largest town, where I bought a t-shirt with seals on it (because we didn't see any seals as I originally hoped we would). After a full day, we narrowly made the last ferry to the mainland and arrived home about seventeen hours after our departure.

Tuesday- SpanDutch(ish) My dissatisfaction with restaurants in Amsterdam (quality and price) made choosing places to eat somewhat difficult. We stumbled upon a Spanish restaurant in the old city (tourist heavy) which seemed promisingly simple and affordable. The food was mostly quite good (if incredibly salty), but really the ambiance made this restaurant a highlight. The decor was, in Josh's words, "a Spanish version of the house on The Brady Bunch." The music was similarly off-the-mark. In a confused attempt at authenticity, a remixed and over-orchestrated Ricky Martin album played throughout the meal. Wine, candles, dark paneled walls.... and "La Vida Loca." Very romantic.

Wednesday- Cosmopolitan Osdorp Regular readers may be familiar with my opinion of the neighborhood I live in. Generally, the architecture is ugly and utilitarian and the population is mostly made up of families and the elderly. Needless to say, nightlife is scarce. On Wednesday, however, we happened upon a very chic and attractive restaurant and bar just down the street from me. We just had an after dinner drink, but it was practically like being in a different town. Most of the walls are windows overlooking the neighborhood's best feature, Sloterplas, a large lake used mostly for sailing and fishing. The decor is sleek and very tasteful (with the exception of blue glass water cups, a trend here I find completely incomprehensible). It was so young! So attractive! And, best of all, only a few steps from home!

Thursday- Dim Sum The Dim Sum Palace is a small, but noticeable chain in Amsterdam. The conceit of the establishment is basically the same as the ubiquitous Chinese Buffet restaurants in New York (more Brooklyn than Manhattan), unlimited Chinese food for 7.50 euro.... in one hour. Although eating fried gobs of MSG for MORE than an hour seems totally unappealing, if not impossible, the addition of the time limit somehow makes this restaurant more attractive than its New York counterparts. That and the lack of vinyl booths with gold chrome trim and fluorescent signs. Though in retrospect the plain interior could have done with a frosted glass landscape or some inlaid mirrored wall-panels. We prepared for our Dim Sum feast all day (mostly mentally, otherwise we might have skipped the chicken fingers at lunch). And my, oh my, it was terrible! EVERYTHING was incredibly salty. There were six types of dumplings all featuring an unidentifiable meat product eerily reminiscent of my impression of SPAM. It was joyfully awful at first, but very quickly became revolting. I'd say that we took about twenty-five minutes of our hour. But Josh used the rest of his later that night vomiting in the bathroom. (On Thursday we also saw the Rijksmuseum which is the national art gallery, though it was not as noteworthy as cheap Chinese food, which is more a commentary on the scale of the renovation being done than anything else).

Friday-Boots! Some of you may have had the pleasure of shopping with me. For those who have not, I am... let's say a little particular. Especially when it comes to footwear, I tend to develop very specific and often unattainable ideas of what I want before beginning the process. I can spend months, sometimes years looking for particular items. This season, I desperately needed boots. My last pair died a graceless death (involving a broken zipper, rain-drenched suede and very wet feet) last spring. I began the fall wearing my "boot outfits" with sneakers (which will always look a little juvenile, I think). So, for about three hours, through maybe 15 shoe stores we shopped. And finally.... there they were. Although I am still breaking them in (apparently leather stretches to your feet) and regularly treating them with a wax spray (for waterproofing and to keep the leather healthy), I am now the proud owner of a beautiful pair of boots. And here they are (on the right side next to Joshua's cowboy boots for comparison).

Saturday-Cruise, etc. Although I did go on a canal cruise during the University orientation, I had never been on the canals at night, when the bridges are lit up and the light reflects on the water. For Josh's last night, we went on a really beautiful cruise and celebrated his trip. We started the evening the picnic pictured below (after shopping for the ingredients at the open market) and sat with a very friendly woman from San Francisco on the boat. It was a really great way to end Josh's trip.

We tried to style the photo after the Dutch master still lives we saw at the museum.

And this is just a taste of all the fun we had! You'll have to come visit me in Amsterdam to see the rest!