I smartly moved to Northern Europe at the worst possible time. If you’re going to transplant yourself to a different climate, dive into it head-first, I say. You’re already bewildered by your new surroundings, and the suboptimal weather can be part of the bewilderment. Then you put on a brave face, and many many layers, and wait for the temperature outside to sloooooooooowly increase.
And the daylight! I’m still not used to the daylight. These days the sun rises to the northeast around 5:30 AM, pinwheels *around* the sky, and sets to the northwest about 10 PM. And even then, it never gets much darker than twilight before brightening again. The situation has its downsides—the morning sun shining directly into the apartment does a number on my sleep pattern—but, for a sun-loving Texan, it’s generally fantastic. Besides the occasional shower, highs are in the 70s (Fahrenheit) and humidity is low. Perfecto.
And yet, my inner Ned Stark is gripping his sword and looking stonily into the middle distance. We’re past the summer solstice, and from here on out, the days are getting shorter and shorter. Six months from now—right around my one-year Amsterversary—the sun will be as fleeting as the stars are now, with temperatures to match. I’ll be enjoying the summer as hard as I possibly can, storing up as many gallons1 of vitamin D as my body can muster.
In other news, after 1,028 days without interruption2, I finished the entire Dutch Duolingo course. It’s good timing that our COVID restrictions have finally ended, giving me the chance to interact with a lot more Dutch people mask-free. Just like everyone learning a new language, my comprehension is moving a lot faster than my speaking ability. HOW ARE THERE SO MANY RANDOM TURNS OF PHRASE I GOTTA LEARN?
Next in the Dutch reading list: the tall stack of Donald Duck comic books that our niece Sophie keeps giving me. Like a Dutch Billy Madison, I’m hoping to rapidly progress through higher and higher reading levels. My friend Ash recommends Dan Brown novels for Dutch reading, because—to put it gently—he doesn’t use big words.
I got my second COVID shot on Friday (Kiki’s is coming soon) and like everybody, we’ve begun tallying up “firsts since the pandemic”: first staged improv show (Kiki’s medical drama: fantastic), first indoor dining (George Marina: overpriced), first movie in a theater (A Quiet Place Part II: really good). Kiki and I were also featured in Het Parool, Amsterdam’s largest daily newspaper3, as part of their food critic’s regular “food you miss from home” feature. Honestly the bomb-ass breakfast tacos were as good as or better than anything I’ve had in Texas. Having a professional photographer documenting the experience was a nice bonus.
And it’s just about time for my first birthday as a full-time Amsterdammer. My cruise director Kiki has a dozen different surprises planned, so I’d better post this entry quick before I need to add them to it.