Sad, but not tragic. A forced opportunity. Maybe even a fortunate adaptation…fuck it. Let's make taco salad.


Ah, another smooth and uneventful escape.

Well, unless you include the punching, kicking, slapping, kissing, groping, and spanking that took place at my “we’re going to keep things mellow” going away event.  We also slowly roasted my piece-of-shit prepaid phone over the campfire, which I found to be quite touching.

And assuming you ignore the fact that I (again, as always) stayed up all night before an important departure, only to fade inside of an hour before Go Time, convinced myself I could take a quick nap, and proceeded to sleep through three alarms.

I probably also should not mention that I was pulled off the plane by security in Reykjavik and briefly questioned because I had a canister of liquid butane fuel in my camping kit.  (Apparently this happens so frequently that they give the stuff away for free if you are intending to camp while in Iceland.  Good to know.)

22 hours of transit.  Two hours of sleep in 48 hours.  Boom.  Amsterdam.  (I’ve been to Schiphol Airport twice now and have absolutely no memory of the place.  Odd.)

The smart thing to do would be to catch a nap and “right the ship,” so to speak.  But that would be completely lame.  A much better idea is to kick off this journey with a serious chemistry experiment.


Friday, 11:20 am:  Goddamn, this pack is heavy!  Either I got fatter and lazier than I thought in the US or I packed way too much.  Shit is going to start getting left behind.  Pronto.  My back is already destroyed and I just fucking got here.  Fortunately, I believe there is a massage parlor in this town somewhere.

Friday, 11:33 am:  This seems like a nice, quiet little coffee shop.  Maybe a good place to set down the bag for a few minutes.  My oh my, it smells nice in here too…

Friday, 11:55 am:  Puffy clouds.

Friday, 12:27 pm:  Why are the nice puffy clouds crying?  That is so sad.

Friday, 12:31 pm:  Oh, that’s rain.

Friday, 12:42 pm:  Holy fuck, I am wasted.  Coffee will surely straighten this situation right out.  Stumble across the street (nearly causing a serious bike pileup…note:  pedestrians do not have the right-of-way here) to the coffee house (which is hopefully different from the coffee shop which, for some reason, did not sell coffee).

Friday, 12:51 pm:  Espresso.

Friday, 12:53 pm:  Puffy clouds.  Bob Marley.

Friday, 12:59 pm:  Order second espresso.

Friday, 1:11 pm:  Maybe if I walk this off, I’ll come around.

Friday, 1:12 pm:  Lost.  More coffee.  White wine chaser.  Maybe two.

Friday, 1:33 pm:  Try to find hotel to dump enormous pack.  It must be somewhere nearby.  Maybe these nice people in the coffee shop can help me.

Friday, 1:34 pm:  Another coffee shop, another cute little baggie.  This one says “Bubble.”  Better give it a shot.

Friday, 1:42 pm:  Puffy clouds.  Bob Marley.  Well-manicured ferns.

Friday, 2:20 pm:  Hotel is right around the corner…next to the coffee house.  Curious that I could have missed it.  Dump bag, promise to return in an hour to check in.  I think I just spoke in Dutch.  Sweet.

Friday, 2:22 pm:  Nervous after hotel interaction, go next door to coffee house to sit outside and enjoy another glass of white wine.  Maybe two.  Ears are tingling.  Unexpected.

Friday, 2:57 pm:  Wander into electronics store in search of a transit card.  Crazy Turkish Gangsters are certain that what I am really looking for is a phone.  Leave with a decent Nokia tri-band unlocked cell phone for €20.  (In retrospect, I’m pretty certain that someone died with this phone in their pocket.  So it goes.)

Friday, 3:28 pm:  Rattled from the experience.  Coffee shop.  Caramello hash sounds quite delicious.

Friday, 3:32 pm:  Puffy clouds.  Bob Marley (Again?  Is that really necessary?).  Well-manicured ferns.  Lava lamp.

Friday, 3:48 pm:  Wander into Inner Space to get a new mushroom t-shirt.  Space Guy upsells me to some Mad Super Happy Time Crazy Pills.  Says they’ll make the puffy clouds puffier.

Friday, 4:01 pm:  Follow canal, end up in red light district.  Brain is melting.  Need more coffee.  Or wine.  Or both?  Sit down in sidewalk café.

Friday, 4:17 pm:  Why is this woman stopping to have a phone conversation right in front of those four prostitutes?  With a toddler in tow and nothing else for him to look at?  Why are the girls smiling and waving at him?  I feel dirty.

Chemistry experiment observation #1:  My face is glowing hot (normal).  I seem to see much better out of my left eye (not normal).  I feel entirely too sentimental.  Wait a minute…Christopher Cross is playing.  In a bar.  In the red light district.  Who the fuck does that?  I think I need to move on.

Friday, 4:32 pm:  Take a stroll through the red light district.  End up following a Korean family who stop and stare (uncomfortably so) into the hooker windows.  The old ladies stand a foot away from the glass and chatter (without averting their eyes) while the man reaches for his camera.  Pointing and swearing in Dutch ensue.  All scuttle away…to the girl four windows down.  Repeat scene.

Friday, 4:54 pm:  I swear that I just saw a guy riding a sideways bike (literally, standing sideways on the bike) wearing a beret and a pince-nez.  Isn’t the sideways bike statement enough?

Friday, 4:55 pm:  Astonishingly drunk group of Brit teens come roaring out of an alley, run to a bridge, and proceed to badger each other until one of them actually jumps into the canal.  And it’s not even 5 pm.  Now I feel really dirty.  Time to get the fuck out of the red light district.

Friday, 5:23 pm:  Hungry, but can’t focus long enough to actually read a menu.  Spend an hour walking up and down a 5 block stretch staring.  “Left eye first.  No.  Let’s try the right one.  Negative.  Let’s try the place next door…”

Friday, 6: 32 pm:  Hunter’s Coffeeshop.  Perfect.  Whatever the fuck “Amnesia Haze” is, it is bound to straighten out this wicked curve I am running down.

Friday, 6:42 pm:  Stumble out the door and into the waiting arms of the Italian restaurateur next door.  (He’s totally used to this bullshit, right?)   Yum!  Italian!

Turns out this is a fairly respectable Italian joint, so I try to play it cool. (i.e. pretend not to be brutally high.  Which I absolutely am.)  They seat me at a booth directly across from the bar where the two (very) young and (very) hot blonde waitresses are stationed.  I am staring.  Fuck.  How do I turn this off?  Oh, shit!  I’m doing it again.

I trade a few glances and get caught staring intentionally, but always with a serene little smile.  (That’s all I’ve got right now, so I just have to go with it.)  The younger of the two (this is a really bad idea), who probably had her 18th birthday just yesterday (otherwise this never happened) starts returning my looks and is getting caught herself with a stare and a cake-eating-grin.  You know where this is going…


No, you don’t.  See, I am so crippled after three more glasses of wine (did I actually eat anything?) that I take a moment when no one is looking and slink out and down the alley.  Why?  I have no fucking idea.  I’m just telling you what happened.


Friday, 8: 50 pm:  And now we’re back in the red light district.  The second dose of Crazy Pills seems to be kicking in (oh, that’s what I had for dinner).  Pretty lights.  Maze of people.  Obnoxious Brits…everywhere.  (I think I was warned about this.)  I just want to give the girls a big hug.  I bet they don’t get enough of that.  Who does?  (The response, by the way, was in Dutch, but I read it as something stronger than, “No.” but not quite to the level of, “Go fuck yourself.”  Seems fair.)

Back to the safety of the sidewalk café for more wine and a mental regroup.

Chemistry experiment observation #2:  I’m pretty sure that all my blood has shifted to the right side of my body.  Is that weird?  I feel quite energized, but also strangely heavy on that side.  The left side just wants to watch Star Trek and eat some french fries.  Is that Carly Simon?  Oh yeah, I’m at that café.

Friday, 9:16 pm:  I decide that it’s a good idea to take pictures of me pointing at Asians taking pictures.  I feel certain that this is the funniest thing the world has ever known.

Friday, 9:47 pm:  Stumble (I think tripping on the door frame of the one step into a bar makes for a killer entrance move) into a bar.  No more taste for wine.  Why not add tequila to the mix?  Why the fuck not, indeed.

Chemistry experiment observation #3:  (Goddamn, it’s good that I’m writing this shit down as I go.  There’s no way I could re-create this tomorrow.)  I can see perfectly if I cover one eye.  Or the other.  But they don’t work in tandem.  How can this be?  Are they confused?  Also, when I am walking I think I am swinging my ass in an abnormally aggressive fashion.  Do I always do that?

Friday, 10:20 pm:  Oh, look!  It’s Amnesia, the coffee shop.  Just what I needed!

Friday, 10:27 pm:  Puffy clo…wait a minute…that’s not possible.

Friday, 10:53 pm:  Wait in line at a back alley shwarma shop.  For a long time.  (I think.)  Get to the cash register.  And order sparkling water.  Curse myself.  Get back in line.  Wait again.  Get two away from the cash register.  Bail out down the alley.

Friday, 11:43 pm:  Have a long conversation at a sidewalk café (over delicious lemoncello) with an older Dutch couple about the US health care system.  “We think it’s so remarkable what Obama has been able to do with health care in your country.”  “Ummm…heh…yes.  Ummm…heh…errrr…health care…”

Friday, 12:05 am:  I’m pretty sure this is my dog.  I mean, it should be.  Now.  No one is loving it the way I would love it.  Does my hotel accept dogs?  Oh shit, I was supposed to check in…I think that was a while ago?

Friday, 12:11 am:  Head in the direction of the hotel.  Actually, this is the Italian restaurant, not the hotel.  Duck into the alley.  Again.

Friday, 12: 17 am:  Man it would be nice if I had actually purchased a transit card instead of this deadweight goddamn cell phone.  And does that place across the street sell french fries?

Saturday, 7:50 am:  Wake up.  In my hotel room (thank fucking god).  Err…how did I get here?  Mad scramble through pockets reveals 5 cute little baggies, wallet, camera, notebook, and tram ticket.  How exactly did I pull that off?  Actually, better not to ask questions…


Saturday: Observations

  • Saw sideways bike riding guy again while having breakfast.  I am not completely crazy.  That guy, on the other hand…
  • Seem to have blood on both sides of my body today, not just on the right.  Must be a side effect of Crazy Pills from Inner Space.  They should put that on the label.
  • I did not, in fact, take any pictures of me pointing at Asians taking pictures.  I did take a lot of pictures of the back of my lens cover.  Compelling, to be sure, but not something I feel like I can share with you.
  • I can’t be sure, because I wasn’t there, but it would seem from the evidence that tequila was where I lost my place in time.  I had everything under control before that, definitely.
  • Next time I do this, I need to have a Reverend with me.  Much safer.

3 Responses to “Amsterdam”

  1. Rick Tousley says:

    You’re a fuckin’ ironman.

  2. Chances high, given the state of exhaustion and compounded reality-challengers, that it truly was Christopher Cross singing in person nearby and you just couldn’t see him.

  3. kevin says:

    So a normal day then.

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