Jon and I made it to the Dutch Consulate tonight to hear Arnon Grunberg speak. You may not know his name but he’s a famous Dutch novelist who lives in New York. When I heard and saw him speak I realized he’s our Dutch Woody Allen, so I’m awaiting a quirky movie by him soon.
He gave a quick synopsis of how he became a successful author and, prior to becoming an author, he was quite happily working for someone who published yellow pages. His boss was really a poet and told him one day that he had to let him go with the comment: “otherwise you’ll end up like me”. Good advice.
Or as I read in a New Age greeting card shop in LA the other day: “You only start living when you reach the edge of your comfort zone.” We’re afraid of change, but change is where the good stuff happens.
Since Grunberg is of that rare species who can write full-time and can actually make a living that way, he has also seen a need in his life for embedding, i.e. going undercover with different professionals to immerse himself in a world that’s rather foreign to him. So he told how he worked as a “maid” in a Bavarian hotel one month where his colleague told him that you just have to make it “look clean”. In other words, he’d be picking up pubic hairs from beds and throwing the covers back on and clean the toilet with the same rag he used for the TV. Next time, I’m sleeping in a hotel, I’ll do a thorough check to see if the sheets are really clean and check the remote for butt crumbs. Thank you, Mr. Grunberg, for planting that little murky thought in my already-twisted mind.
Jon and I saw some old friends so it was a fun night. Thank you Edith, Pauline and Marjan, thank you Netherland America Foundation, and thank you Dutch consulate.
It’s already past 10 and I need to hit the sack but on Bart we were texting with Will who took WOW to Reykjavik where he was connecting for Berlin to meet his sweetheart Lily who’s doing an internship there. The exchange cracked me up. How’s Reykjavik we asked. His answer:
“The airport smells like IKEA.”
When we asked about his flight, he said:
“They were selling like cartons of cigarettes which threw me for a loop.”
To which Jon answered: “Ya, to make up for the low fares.”
Then Will said: “Also people are just casually drinking bottles of beer at the gate. Like what”
Jon: “Breakfast of champions”. Me: “Their livers are made of steel and ice.”
Which Will closed off with the fine line: “Frat as fuck.”
I love these kinds of texts.
No need to say more except for:
The grand tour ain’t what it used to be.