I have found the workshop “Meaningful Work and Money” while researching cultural events and activities in the city of Amsterdam. First liner: “How to do what you love, contribute to society and make it your living?”. In my head, a bright light immediately went on. THIS IS WHAT I NEED. Just a little context for the ones who are here for the first time: I am at a turning point at Amsterdive. I want to continue writing and creating content for this beloved platform of mine, but it is time to take it a step further. I want to make it my job. I already spend the majority of my time over here, which means that I do need to start translating this work into money. But how?
The hair struggle
Once you move abroad, the process of finding a hairdresser is similar to the one of finding a doctor. In the beginning, you think you don’t need them, you might as well wait, there’s no rush. You feel fine and your hair “works”. As time goes by, you notice you don’t feel 100% in your skin so you buy some supplements and commit to skipping the junk food. Similarly, your hair isn’t all that great anymore but you decide you’re just going to experiment with different hairstyles.
In the meanwhile, you get a bit sick so you swallow some medicine you have at home and that makes you feel better for the time being. As for your hair, eventually, there will come a moment in which you realize it is a good idea to cut it, but you also decide you are your own woman, therefore, you are going to do it yourself ( oh yes I did). You feel sort of accomplished afterwards: hairdressers are expensive, you think to yourself, and cutting your hair is not that difficult after all. Except that you never feel really sure of your own opinion on the final result. The day you finally make an appointment with a doctor is – obviously – the one you cannot get out of bed to go to work. The day I made an appointment with Claudje was – obviously – the culmination of a period in which I realized I had been wearing a beanie, like, every single day.
We were crossing the Ij to Amsterdam North with the ferry, and he asked me, with eyes wide open, if there were fish in the Ij. I was struck by the question. Fish in the Ij. Damn. I had never thought of it. I used to have cool conversations all the time with artists and creatives of all sorts, folks of different nationalities who could speak at least a couple of languages, and had university degrees, and were cosmopolitan, and well-travelled, and kept themselves busy with exciting occupations, and knew a lot of complex stuff about fields of which existence I ignored. And then this guy I had randomly met at a party asks me, in his broken English, if there are fish in the IJ, and I am mindblown. Who would have cared for such a seamless, simple thing like the aquatic vertebrates living down under water? To what sort of person could this piece of information matter? At that moment the love seed germinated.
Every now and then I am walking around the city – wait, who am I kidding?, I never walk – I am cycling, cycling around the city -, and I get struck by this feeling that we are all so disconnected from each other. Which is ironical given the fact that we are also living crammed to each other and yet emotionally so far apart, always busy, never really paying attention to what’s happening around us. Then I can’t avoid my mind to wander to a place where it all was different, where connecting was the rule and not the exception. Where everyone smiled at each other, where people acknowledge each other’s presence, where interactions with other human beings were easy, simple, and free. This description might sound like a mere utopia to most of us. But the cool thing is that there are places like this in the world: not many, that’s true, but they exist.
Six years: still no house
Right now, all the things I own are stored in three different houses in Amsterdam. Most of them are housed in a storeroom of this couple friend of mine who lives in Ijburg, in the large house they own. Then I have some other stuff in the Westerpark area, at the place of another friend who has also been the caregiver of my cats while I can’t have them with me. He also owns his house. Finally, I have one piece of luggage and a backpack which I carry with me everywhere, with the essentials for everyday life. Currently, I am staying in the area of Museumplein (I know, I know). This other couple friend went on holiday and offered their home for me to plant sit while they’re away. Thank god they are not like most people in Amsterdam who will Airbnb their place at the first opportunity. If they had done that they would be now basically enjoying a free holiday. Airbnb prices here are similar to hotel ones so it is easy to understand why people do it so massively in this city. This also helps explain why, from a market point of view, is it not the first time that I am in the ‘homelessness’ situation in the almost six years I’ve been living over here.
When I was a child, we had a tradition, my mom and me. On a regular lazy weekend afternoon, we would pass on a piece of paper back and forth in which we would draft down little notes to each other. It would read something like this:
“You are like a beautiful flower”;
“You are the brightest of stars”;
“You are the sun in the sky”
LONDON: MUSEUMS & FRIENDS
There were two things I absolutely loved about my trip to London. On a personal level, the reencounter with friends I have known for years and who have been very influential in my life. From an objective point of view, the museums. London is an extraordinary place when it comes to world-class art, and I believe there are few places on the planet that can rival that aspect. I have just visited four art museums + a couple of galleries, but art is everywhere in London, really. From the subway to the streets, including markets, cafes and abandoned public spaces. We can argue against the ways the British got hold of a lot of foreign art in their possession. For instance, the British Museum ought to be named after “The Museum of Culture Representation in Britain”, or “The stuff we got by means of British Imperialism”, or quite simply, “Shouldn’t we be flying to Asia, Africa, and America instead?”. But instead of focusing on the political ethics of the whole thing, the goal of this article is to tell you about moments of enlightenment I experienced in London. These are a synonym to art and friends, so I decided to combine one museum to each friend I met in the city. This is thus the first part of the series Museums & Friends.
Wake up to the Sunday morning, hop on your bike, cycle to the park, and feel the smell of the trees around you, listen to the chirping of birds, feel the wind breeze. It’s spring, and we’re at the Oosterpark. It’s 10 a.m. and unlike later on in the afternoon, it is quiet over here, and there’s SPACE. My friend Catarina from All In Yoga is about to start the class. As much as I love dancing the night out, the feeling of starting the day early, and in this fashion, is incomparable.
Imagine this. You’ve decided you’re moving to another country. You don’t exactly know why you’ve chosen that land, other than it’s widespread reputation for being a good place to live in. You think it’s better to start writing to people prior to your departure. Those people are already living in the country of your choosing, and could hypothetically help you settle. Some of them are friends of friends, others write blogs you like reading. You never met them in person, so it’s basically a shot in the dark. There’s this girl who writes for a fashion platform you came across, and she is based in Amsterdam. You give it a try.
The only moment of the day in which you can quietly walk along the city center of an overcrowded Amsterdam is at the crack of dawn: that’s the time when you carelessly go around parts of the city you would otherwise avoid. That is also the moment in which, as a local, you feel that the city is yours again ( was it ever…?) – even if just for a couple of hours, before the sea of tourists awakes. However, and despite the fact that I love this sensation, I somehow really need to have a strong reason in order to wake up early. And the good reason for me is always art-related.