Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Dispatch from the Couch

First, a message to stay-at-home moms and dads and gender-nonconforming parents: while I respect your decision to make raising your kids your primary work, I cannot say that I understand your decision. Kids are adorable, sure. But I've just spent not-quite-a-week taking care of my little cousins while they're on their fall break, and I've never been so exhausted in my whole life--even though their father is home, too! Two of them are sick, and all three scream a lot, whether it's in glee or anger or sadness. I've basically been drinking tea nonstop because I'm almost constantly dozing off. I love them, and I'm glad to be spending time with them and watching them learn, but it's tough having a job that you can never stop doing, 24/7. At any rate, this week has reminded me that household chores and childrearing is real work, and stay-at-home parents should probably be paid for it. Can't we just fund the military less and institute a universal basic income instead?

Though they are across the ocean, I can see my conservative parents shaking their heads in disappointment.

Anyway, my brain is frazzled enough that I can't remember in what order things have happened lately. I'll try to share some anecdotes. 

I crashed my cousin's bike into a wall, wounding only my pride. There were tears in my eyes, but only from embarrassment. I suppose it could have been worse--there were merely two tall beautiful blonde Dutch people working on their picturesque boat in the picturesque canal (of course) to witness my shame. What's more, they were really nice, and rushed over to make sure I was okay. Heartless laughter would have been infinitely more bearable--then at least I could have laughed with them. I knew that breaking on fixie bike would be tough, but I didn't realize that steering would be this difficult. Hopefully I can muster the courage to try again...

On Saturday night I went to a storytelling show at the Volkshotel. I arrived ten minutes early, and the bar was completely dead. I figured I had either stumbled into a hugely unpopular event, or that Dutch culture doesn't stress promptness. Luckily, the latter seemed to be the case. As I watched the tables filling around me, I considered how to project an air of confidence while simultaneously projecting a desperate "please talk to me!" message. Then I remembered my travel tattoos. I can't get people to stop talking to me when I show off my tattoos. I removed my sweater, and within five minutes I was talking to a group at the table next to mine--who turned out to be a bunch of gay dudes from Andersonville in Chicago. Really breaking out of my comfort zone there. Later I started chatting with a Dutch woman named Wendy, and now we're friends! By which I mean Facebook friends. I owe her a drink, so I'll have to contact her soon. 

This year I finally volunteered for the VIDA count, and our work started this week. Essentially we go through the TOCs of major literary magazines and count how many women and gender-nonconforming people are represented as opposed to men. Later in the year they'll publish the statistics. So far the results that I've encountered are disheartening. And yet I'm not surprised. 

We've been doing lots of fun things with the kiddos. The other day we took them to a little carnival downtown in Dam Square. We were going to ride the ferris wheel, but then W+H both had their own special meltdowns. On the bright side, downtown Amsterdam is absolutely gorgeous. 


Today we took them to see a T. Rex skeleton at a museum in Leiden. I wish I'd had time to take pictures of the town. It was beautiful, full of old buildings, with a giant molen (windmill) in the middle. Then we met one of their friends, Lukas, and his parents at a pannenkoek (pancake) restaurant. Dutch pancakes are more like crepes--they come in both sweet and savory versions. And they're gigantic. Mine had mushrooms, onions, bacon, and cheese. Observe:

Pannenkoek is lekker.

And...yeah. There's probably more stuff. I don't know. I need to go to sleep. Dinner first, though. 

Oh, and good luck to all my my UNLV friends with the presidential debate tonight! Wish I were there to witness the chaos. Very jealous of all your Anderson Cooper sightings.


EDIT: I forgot that one of my flash fiction stories was published in Helen this week. That's another thing that happened. You should probably read it. 

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