Eight Years Ago We Wed - Since Then, I Became an Adult

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For years now (more than a decade of them) a friend and I have been playing the “who’s the first to become an adult game”. It started in college and was simply a game that would define the moment when you became a man. You entered adulthood when you bought frames for your posters or purchased a box spring for your mattress were common life changing events of the time. As we aged, those moments became more mature scenarios like drafting a will, buying life insurance or having your first hernia operation.

This summer when my wife and I took a trip abroad without our toddler I realized I had officially become a man. The moment I recognized I was helpless to the person whose life depended on me. Across the ocean and in capable hands he was safe and secure but still I appreciated at that moment what it means to have grown up.

Having someone depend on you and allowing yourself to feel absolutely responsible for their safety and security.

Eight years ago, I became a husband and was on the path to adulthood. Four years ago on a houseboat in Amsterdam eating some outstanding pastries during our “State of the Union” discussion we deliberated starting a family and my journey towards becoming a man grew a little more solid.

Now that I am fully committed to fatherhood I am complete and this self-realization would never have happened had it not been for my wife. Her giving me a family is the greatest gift I could have ever asked for. Even if the sacrifice is being convinced to grow up a little.

Thank you for helping me become the best person I can be.

Wedding CD
Wedding CD

[mp3-jplayer tracks="FEED:/music"]

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6 hours ahead to 3 hours behind

On Woensdag (Wednesday), we left Amsterdam for Reno. Well, we attempted to leave Amsterdam for Reno. The daily Usairways flight from AMS to PHL was full and rather than roll the dice on one flight we figured a safer bet would be to roll the dice on two relatively full flights out of Frankfurt. And if we didn't make these flights? Hey, we get to spend the night in Germany! Fortunately, we had three days to meet my folks and grandparents in Reno. This was Wednesday and we were to meet them Friday.  We bought two tickets on the ICE train to Germany. It's a highspeed train that tops out at 175MPH between cities! Although the room we were in held six, we only shared it with one lady who played Sudoku in German. Sudoku is the international language of road warriors.

ice train

Upon arrival in Frankfurt, we only had an hour before the first of our two options for the states so we sprinted straight for the ticket counter. This flight was to Charlotte and from there we had a few options to get to Phoenix and then off to Reno.

I didn't have to understand German to know the agent wasn't happy about us showing up an hour before departure for an international flight. I'm bearded with a backpack, smiling telling her, "Today, tomorrow, next week. Whenever. No stress." 

"Run!" She says. "You may make it."

So much for pleasantries.

At security I got manhandled. I should have paid him for the attention he gave me. Security was both fast and friendly and done at the gate so the line was short. (The boarding was nearly finished so there was no line.)

airbus 330

We were the second from the last of the free loaders to get on and sat separate from each other which was unfortunate because typically I get the meaty portions of Susan's meal. My seat mate didn't seem too interested in abliging me in my coachclass habits. "You gonna eat your fat?"

Landed in CLT and I made the command decision to call it a day and spend the night in a hotel. The Phoenix flights were full - as were the connecting flights to Reno and rather than spend all day cramped in a plane, we'd rest and try again in the morning. I called the same hotel we stay at with the airline since it has several nasty food options within a walk that all sounded pretty good after a day of traveling - Waffle house, Cracker Barrel and some sloppy buffet place with squeaky green beans and overly buttered rolls.

Looking at the next days flight options, the most open westbound flight was an early San Francisco flight that would get us in at 9am PT. We could spend the day in San Francisco and then take an early morning Gotobus to Reno for $30 each. We found this option after Googling, "bus Reno from San Francisco".

gotobus

And this is where we are now... hours from the bus ride to Reno! The bus caters to the casino crowd and with a few extra bucks you can buy some chips for Harrah's and get a free steak. Since the bus leaves from Chinatown, I'm hoping it's full of aging chinese ladies off for a day at the casino. And us, two weary travelers with bulging backpacks and well used ipods.

Bike Parkinglot

bike parkinglot

Originally uploaded by stork123

Headlights and mudflaps and trunks oh my. We've spent days riding around town. When peddling with groceries in hand it's a challenge to decide which hand to keep free. One is good for the brake - the other - the ringer! Do I let people know I'm about to hit em since I can't brake or brake and aviod hitting them? Quite the dilemma,

Dutch appliances puzzle us

So after a few weeks I think we've finally figured out how to use the appliances on the houseboat. We downloaded a few manuals, asked around a bit but ultimately it was trial and error that came through. The clothes do finally come out smelling clean but still incredibly wet and while we still haven't figured out the dryer, this may be the reason it takes a few cycles to dry. As you can see, most of the numbers seem to correspond with times but it's the sequence in which you push buttons that hasn't come easy. Most of the panel buttons give you an 'ERR' if pushed at the wrong time. And two "start" buttons? For a few tries, I thought CENTRIFUGEN was a spin cycle, but - still wet.

Since Snelfoto signs hang near 1 hour photo booths, Snelwas naturally means quick wash. Granted - all this would be easy with Babelfish (yes - from HGTTG), but I prefer to speculate while on vacation. I've been on a digital diet.

 

And look at the DRYER!.  Dryer

There is a display that isn't photo'd that gives a series of icons to correspond with the letters. A few shaded water drops versus a few unshaded water drops? Several shaded suns rather than a few unshaded ones? And you don't have the option for a bit of both.

"I'd like three dark water drops next to a solid white sun?"

We've come up with "A" a few times seems to do the trick.

Interesting feature - you have to drain the water pan every couple of cycles. Rather than spit the water out into drainage - it collects in a pan under the machine. Pure spent water from a days activities!

My childhood "Boy named Sue" moment

This is a girls shirt!

In grade school we wore navy blue pants and white dress shirts. The boys had triangular collars while the girls wore the rounded ones that little Catholic school girls wear. There was an unfortunate era when my sister and I wore the same size shirt even though we were two years apart. And, of course, there was that day. One of the days that sticks with you forever and came back to me the other day when i was trying on used sweaters at an outdoor market in Amsterdam.

"This is a girls sweater." I said to Susan.

"Oh no it's not. It looks good on you." She answered.

"Irrelevant how it looks, the buttons are on the wrong side."

Back to grade school. The unlucky day must have been around 5th grade and it was made clear to me by my teacher that I was wearing a girls shirt. She asked, of course, in front of the class. "Are you wearing your sisters clothes?"

The class turned and errupted in laughter.

"Stork-dorks wearing a girls shirt!"

So my question is this, was it I who was half asleep while dressing watching Woody Woodpecker or was it my father who was half asleep while he ironed our shirts that morning. Where were the parental checks and balances to sound the buzzer for these things? Was this just a "boy named sue" moment in which my father tested me on how I would handle the rigors of manhood? The only thing it has taught me is to pay extra notice as to which side the buttons are and what shape the collar is.

And it does spin

Originally uploaded by stork123

This windmill is down the road from the houseboat. It's spins in the evening and is on the tourmap for travelers. There is a bar below the windmill and next to it is a eetcafe that we stop by most everynight for a drink before heading home. With our bikes locked up a few feet away and guidebooks safely stashed in our bag, we mock tourists who get off the bus for the "windmill photo." I've taken at least twenty. What's been nice about this landmark is it's pretty easy to see while bike riding to help point us in the direction of home. Also on the "hey we live near that" list is the Artis. If we can find the artis, we can find home. But, since we've been peddling around for the past few days, we've become damn near carrier pigeons when it comes to our directional sense. The first week we took public transit (which is exceptional) since it was a bit rainy but the last week the weather has been great and everywhere we go is via bike.

I've got a bike - you can ride it if you like

We spent the day peddling around Amsterdam... the first sunny day since we've been here. The houseboat comes with two bikes and we set out this morning to first see the De Hortus Botanicus Amsterdam and then ride around town some. The Botanical Garden was suprisingly close to our neighborhood by bike... but after a day of peddling, we found that most things are pretty close! (More on the gardens in another post, as well as our trip to the Tropenmuseum yesterday.) Although the gardens were beautiful and the butterfly house was awesome, I had the most fun just riding around and acting Dutch. With ipod in and proper hand signals given for turns, I did my best to keep with the flow through town. Each road has bike lanes on either side as well as traffic lights for bikers alongside the lights for foot traffic.

One of our favorite neighborhoods in Amsterdam is Jordan (yor-Dahn). We peddled there for groceries even though there are several markets near the boat. We bought our dinner on the other side of town so we could fit in more with the locals as we peddled with groceries strapped to the bike. The Dutch are born with impeccable balance. We rode behind an older man with what appeared to be a musical instrument strapped to his back, several bags on his sides and a fifty pound dog in the front basket. Amazingly, he still had the dexterity to use a free hand to tip his hat at friends!

After navigating through the congestion today, it gives me a great appreciation for the parents I see with kids strapped to their bikes and groceries on their backs. We had some trouble near the end of the ride just getting going from a stop. Imagine the bikers we'd pass that have piggybackers riding side saddle on the rear tire?

Even though it's overcast and rainy - it's so green. Our 3 weeks in Amsterdam

Maybe it's because I understand about one word in one hundred here (often it's not the sexual reference I think), but there is much less talk about protecting the environment and much more action here in Holland. Each day I see something else that seems so simple but in the US it would be revolutionary. Like all the other quick fixes (personal debt, weightloss, hair growth), we Americans obviously look for the magic bullet rather than lots of small fixes for the greater good.

  • Bikes, obviously. America spent billions building the interstates in the 50's. Damn near every road in Amsterdam has a bike path attached to it. Old, young and rain or shine - people are out peddling around. How refreshing it is to see an old man peddling to work chewing gum and whistling... How bad could your day be knowing that you get to ride your bike home?
  • Toilets with a flusher for number one and a flusher for number two. Although, I tossed a few spiders in the WC and wasn't sure where they fit it... To be sure, I hit number 2. "Shock and Awe" bitches.
  • Walking by stores, I wonder if they are open... its dark in there. It's dark by our standards. Sure those spiral fluorescent lights are greener - but these guys just don't use lights unless need be! How easy is that? Granted, this time of year its bright out from 5am to 10pm. They may burn seal oil day and night come winter?
  • Much smaller trash cans? Maybe it's the houseboat neighborhood here but everyone has much smaller trash cans outside? Do they use less prepackaged foods and eat more local produce? Do they burn the garbage in the oven or throw it in the canal? Either way, i thining about the amount of trash we produce and what we can do to re-use.
  • Everyone brings their own bags to the market or uses shared bags that other shoppers drop off in a bin. Rather than springing for the Trader Joes branded bags advertising how 'green' we are... we need to just use a sack.

Now, Susan and I just need to take what we've seen here and try and implement more into our routine at home. All I know for sure is I can't wait to build the disco shower from here on the boat at home. Which will mean 20 min showers under stobes on a nightly bases! But I'll be sure to hit the one flusher after number one!

The disco shower!

The control panel (there is also a remote but has dead batteries) allows the user to control the radio, the disco lights or the amount of steam. The analog dials control temperature and nozzle selection. While showering, you can have the standard shower head or rain mode. But - for more fun... there is the wall of shower with the eight sprayers there - or the seat guns! I haven't gotten the courage yet to fire the seat cannons...