I’m not so good at updating this thing consistently, huh? Some weeks I feel like not enough has happened for a substantial post, while other weeks we’re doing a lot, but I don’t want to turn into one of the people who never actually experiences anything because they’re too busy trying to document every detail. I’m also getting increasingly irritated with social media (too much oversharing, ranting, ridiculous selfies, narcissistic posts in general, humble-bragging, not-humble-bragging etc.), so at this moment I’d rather be doing too little than too much.
Here’s an overview of what’s been going on, in no particular order:
- We’ve been here for 11 months! This year has gone by faster than any other year I can remember. We also had our anniversary this month and neither of us remembered until about a week beforehand (“Oh yeah, that’s next week!”). We did save our wedding cake top, but it’s in Will’s aunt’s deep freeze in Texas, so I made us a little white cake instead.
- Will just finished his first year at Codarts this week. The school schedule starts and ends later than in the U.S. and also they take more vacations during the school year, so that’s why they’re finishing up while our American teacher friends are already halfway through their vacations. He had a recital on Tuesday, which went really, really well. Here’s his poster, made by our friend David Morley.
- Earlier this semester there was a concerto competition, and Will was one of three selected to perform with the orchestra next year. His teacher had been telling the bass clarinets who were competing not to expect to win because they never pick bass clarinet for those kinds of things. The day the results came out, Will overheard someone say, “Yeah, and some bass clarinet guy got picked, too,” and it was him! He forwarded the results email to me, only adding “This is kind of exciting.” to the body of the email. So he’s like this kid:
The girl’s pretty hilarious, but I think the boy in the blue shirt is actually the funniest. He’s got some kind of manic robot head-banging going on. So enthusiastic!
- I’m starting a brand new Dutch children’s choir in September at a small music school in Rotterdam. If you told me two years ago I’d be doing that, I would have laughed my head off at you. A few months ago, I was looking for a group in which I could practice conversational Dutch outside of class, so I joined meetup.com and found a group for Dutch learners in Rotterdam. I went to an event where we played some word games, and after the event I was talking to the event coordinator, who told me he knew an American woman who ran a music school I had never heard of and could get me in contact with her. I emailed her pitching various kinds of music lessons or a children’s choir, and here we are. There’s a big age range at the school and we’re offering it to anyone who’s interested, so I hope we have enough so I can have two groups. I’m not worried about the pedagogy aspect, but I am nervous about teaching and communicating in Dutch.
- I’m done with my Dutch classes and so far it looks like I won’t have to take the government proficiency test, although I’m going through a self-study book that’s based on its requirements. I’m feeling increasingly confident in my understanding in general, although it can be inconsistent. One day I can walk down the street and know exactly what the people around me are talking about, and another day I am completely baffled because a cashier asked me a question in a slightly different way than I’m used to. I need to practice talking most, so I joined a couple language-learning websites that match you up with people who are learning your native language and speak the language you’re learning fluently. At first I was disappointed with them because I was only getting Skype requests from creepy men who didn’t speak a word Dutch and had no business trying to contact me, but now I’m actually finding people to practice with. Now I have two Skype language partners, a Dutch singer-songwriter and a blind Belgian student (okay, so that one’s more like just talking on the phone through Skype). Both of them want to practice American English and we try to do 30-45 minute chunks of each language per sitting. I like it because it’s free, I can do it from home, and it’s less awkward/safer than meeting someone in person. I wish I had thought of it sooner!
- We started getting visitors from home! In May, our friend Allen came for a couple days after his work trip, and Will’s family came a few weeks ago. And right now my roommate from undergrad Bri is in flight toward us. I really enjoy showing our friends and family our new country, so if you want to see Holland, this is a good time for you to go. But only if I like you. Just kidding. Kind of.
- I finally went outside the Netherlands. Now I can tick Belgium, Germany, and Austria off my list. We went on a day trip to Brussels with one of my friends from Dutch classes, and it still surprises me that we can drive for an hour and a half and find ourselves in a completely different country with a different language and culture. If I drove for an hour and a half in Houston I’d be in…probably still Houston. When Will’s family was here we went to Munich (his dad had a work conference there) and also took a train to Salzburg.
I’m getting very sleepy, so I’ll leave you with a conversation I had last week with the tram attendant when he was checking my transportation card. It started when I said “Hallo,” but I guess it was more “Hello” than “Hallo” because he starting talking to me in English immediately. Actually, he wasn’t talking, he was singing.
“Hello…is it me you’re looking for?”
I laugh. It’s very entertaining.
“Where are you from? Wait, don’t tell me…Norway!”
“Oh. You look Scandinavian. I think it’s your face.”
“Nope, just American. Texas.”
“Did you ever see George W. Bush?”
“No, but I did work in the same part of Dallas where he lives.”
“Why didn’t you try to find him?”
“Well, I didn’t know EXACTLY where he lives, plus if I did I probably wouldn’t try to go there uninvited anyway.”
“Oh. I lived in L.A. for three years, you know.”
“Yeah. That’s where all the Jennifer Lopez girls are. You know…
*draws womanly curves with hands and raises eyebrows repeatedly for the next 30 seconds*
At this point I’m laughing but trying really hard not to do an all-out in-tears cackle.
“Have you ever seen Bigfoot?”
“Can’t say that I have.”
“I saw Bigfoot once.”
“Really? You saw Bigfoot in L.A.”
“Yes! I know it was Bigfoot, but it was weird because it had SHINY eyes. Bigfoot is supposed to have glowing eyes.”
Now I’m holding my breath and tearing up trying not to laugh in his face.
“I did not know that about Bigfoot.”
“Yes, it had shiny eyes. There’s no Bigfoot in Texas?”
“Not that I’ve seen.”
“Yeah, well, it’ll probably have shiny eyes instead of glowing eyes.”
“Okay then. I’ll be on the lookout.”