Today, I realized it’s been awhile since I’ve posted. I have grand ideas of posting a clever, tactful, stimulating explanation of Dutch culture and the character of Zwarte Piet (I’ve even had friends send me articles), but there simply hasn’t been enough time.
I’m also trying to write a book. That hasn’t been happening lately.
So here’s something to tide you over…a short explanation of what I do all day. In my mind, I have imaginary people knocking at my door and asking, “What in the heck do you do all day?!”
So…what do I do all day, holed up in our apartment, or streaking away on my bike, glad for a few moments in the cold air, even if its rainy and the bike path (fiets pad) is mushy?
That’s what I’ve been trying to be more conscious of: what do I do all day? Well, right now, I’m kind of living the dream. I get to do things I would never get to do if I was employed all day (of which I have 8 year experience).
I try to sit in 20 minutes of silence each day and meet God.
Frans and I try to read a passage each day out of our One Year Chronological Bible as we sip coffee and eat a breakfast (usually) of yogurt and red berry muesli.
Sometimes I run. In rare moments I do yoga.
I usually put away last night’s now-dried clean dishes, clean up after breakfast, fold or put in laundry, and dress myself. (Even unemployed, its been critical to dress myself. A little makeup and everything. No days sitting in pajamas for me!)
I’ve been refurnishing our apartment, which feels like systematically painting everything we own white.
I answer e-mails and schedule meetings with friends, Skype appointments.
I look up recipes, and translate the words I don’t know.
I head off on Nelly to the local supermarket, where I load Nelly up so full that the basket causes her to swagger home (can a bike swagger?) like a drunk.
I sometimes visit a secondhand store, where I gradually add things to our home, things like egg-cups, picture frames, a scarf or two, and a retro globe.
Sometimes I ride to the Central Bibliotheek (library). It’s about a thirty minute bike ride and I get a little lost sometimes dodging construction zones and following detours, but I could live there. I wander and read and look for books in Engels (English).
I wrote our church’s five-part Christmas skit.
I drool over Pinterest.
I watch our wedding video, because I often wish I relive those moments. It almost always makes me cry.
I throw in another load of laundry or clean the kitchen counters or do dishes again.
I meet someone for coffee and just absorb the pleasure of friendliness.
I translate something for Frans’s work.
I kiss my husband when he comes home, and make some dinner. Lately, I’ve tried to make our dinners mini-art forms. I think I’ve tried nearly 50 new recipes since we’ve been married. Thanks, Pinterest.
I write this here blog.
Yet I feel as though every week is different. It’s hard for life here to feel monotonous.
This weekend, we drove to l’Abri in Eck-en-Wiel ( l’abri is French for ‘the shelter’ and is a study center I worked at this summer…there are 9 locations all over the world…the Dutch l’abri is on a farm surrounded by apple orchard and in a sixteenth century house where both Jews and Resistance fighters hid during the Second World War.)
We picked up our friend Tina from Maine who worked there this Fall, and caught up with some of the people who work there, and some of our friends who visit as regulars.
Tina and I had a ladies night with a bad movie (never ever ever watch The Piano…audibly and visually beautiful, but the storyline is artistic puke) and face masks, while Frans hung with man-friends. On Sunday we went to church, met up with inspiring friends for lunch, sold something on Marktplaats, welcomed our New Zealander-friend Steve for the night, and enjoyed breakfast the next morning with the four of us before Frans dropped them both at Schipol.
More painting, laundry, cleaning, shopping.
And today, translating and blogging, and then a visit to our newest friend, only a few days old: Madelief van der Neut (her father, Guido, read a Bonhoeffer quote in our wedding…her mother, Rieneke, was the beautiful pregnant one dancing at our wedding).
We meet Madelief after I sign a contract at my new language program for next year…the Pace Taleninstitut…where it is their object (and mine) to teach me Dutch in such high concentration in order to (hopefully) have me speaking, writing, and reading Dutch at the level of an 18-year-old high school graduate by this time next year.
I will also have to ask all Dutch friends and family to only speak to me in Dutch. The lady also recommended that Frans speak to me in Dutch in the mornings. Saddle up!
All classes are paid for by the Dutch government. But get this: beginning in 2013, all inburgerers (immigrants) will have to pay for their own language classes. Frans and I take my acceptance into Dutch classes in 2012, with a mere 2 weeks to spare, as a gift.
For all of these things and more,
….Zwarte Piet to come!