June 11th: When Your Kids Start Behaving like the Locals, Maybe it’s Time to Go Home…

After a lovely time in The Hague, seeing the Mondrian exhibit at the Gemeentemuseum, stopping by on the beach at Scheveningen, but especially: overdosing on baby Tom:


it became time to pick up Will from Schiphol. He was returning from South Africa, a life- altering trip or so it seems from the stories (and the missionary beard). Btw he wants a haircut and we all say: WHY?! We waited for about an hour at Schiphol but finally, he came through the doors:


The dude in the rear (on the right) is probably thinking it might be his Dutch girlfriend who’s welcoming him home, but it’s his little sis. And here Will is, looking cool in the elevator:


We drove to Amsterdam where Will is staying with his cousin Tim, and Sophie, and Fred, the amazing dachshund, who barks at you when you look him deep in the eye… Then Caroline and I went to our Airbnb in Amsterdam Zuid, which is to die for. The kitchen is better equipped than mine at home but parking fees are horrendous.

Will joined us later, biking like a true local and when we set out for dinner (Caroline and I in the car) and Will on his bike, Caroline could not resist the temptation and lean out the window when passing Will from the rear, and yelling KLOOTZAK! (which means asshole, for the uninitiated). Right. When the kids start behaving like the locals, maybe we overstayed our welcome already…

Dinner was lovely, outside, and the kids were marveling at how light it stays at night. All I can say: we’ve really lucked out with the weather, thus far. Then the kids went clubbing and I went to bed, feeling old and boring. Although clubbing really wasn’t my deal at their age either, so I’ve always been boring.

Now I’m getting ready for my meeting with Peggy Stein to interview her with regard to the Indische Kwestie (for The Indo Project), and I probably should work for the rest of the Sunday, as well Monday and Tuesday, which means that I haven’t fully assimilated yet, because when you walk downtown on a weekday, whether it’s The Hague or Amsterdam, the locals all seem to be on vacation, but I think it has to do with the large part-time economy of the Netherlands (read: people here know all about life/work balance).

Other impressions? The Netherlands is still overcrowded, although their extreme talent at organization doesn’t make it feel like Bangkok, we should have an Albert Heijn in America (let’s sacrifice one large Starbucks for that), produce and flowers, like these


are still dirt cheap, Mondriaan’s early work is just as interesting as his abstract stuff:


summer birds sound different from the ones in California, people are better about picking up dog shit these days, and the Dutch will still offer their opinion even if you didn’t ask for it. Also, my son shouldn’t be buying beers from a stranger in Vondelpark, and paying ten euros for two beers is ridiculous. The guy was so grateful that he offered some weed to go with, but lo and behold, Will declined. What did I say? My kids are becoming more Dutch than the Dutch themselves, because yes, as I told my American students at the time, the Dutch do way less weed than Americans, even though Americans tend to think all the Dutch are potheads when they can paint like Mondriaan and Van Gogh.

I’m signing off because I’ve wasted way too much of your time already…

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