Thursday, November 12, 2009

I Deserve A Little Taste of America!

My most recent class in Dutch was tough for so many reasons. First of, I am not sure what is tougher learning Dutch or biking to Dutch Class. I left the house at 6:15 giving me 45 minutes to get to class. (which should only take about 15 minutes) But I had to make a stop...

I have developed a ritual of rewarding myself for making it to my Dutch class with what I call an American treat. I buy myself something American to eat. I have to eat Dutch all week, then study Dutch and see Dutch and then bike through Dutch hell to get to Dutch class then 3 hours of hearing Dutch and write Dutch, Dammit! I AT LEAST deserve an American reward or something as close as I can find. For my first class I rewarded myself with a bag of "COOL AMERICAN" (what they call Ranch flavored chips here)Doritos and a Kit Kat Bar. Class two it was a frozen Pizza called the BIG TEXAN American pepperoni pizza. Class three was Sloppy Joe's from a packet of sloppy joe seasoning I had kept hidden in my sock drawer that I smuggled back with me from my last visit to the States (class three was tough and I rewarded myself with this special luxury). So this last class I decided I am going to splurge and bike to Kentucky Fried Chicken. I NEVER eat there in the States. It seems my rewards are getting more and more extravagant. I was going to buy me a KFC chicken sandwich for after class. Good ole American fast food.

My bike was going to be a problem today. I had asked Jur to raise the seat for me after a few people commented that I was sitting to low on my bike. Jur had told me a few days ago he did it but I did not check it out because I generally try to avoid the bike until class. (I control the bike the bike does not control me.) I knew that I should have checked the seat height before I left for KFC and my class. The seat was a few inches two high and I really had to jump to get on my seat and when I needed to stop I would have to stretch with all my might to just get my toes to scrap the pavement. Painful at times on the crotch and not good for my dress shoes which I was really regretting wearing. This was going to be an experience.

Now to get to KFC is not as easy as it sounds. I would have to bike through the middle of the busiest section of The Hague! I was willing to risk it. I wanted that damn American tasting Chicken sandwich with special KFC seasoning. I don't care if the sandwich gets cold in the next three and half hours. It's American and it is mine! Plus the idea of biking home after class and eating KFC while watching clips of Desperate Housewives on you tube was now my mission!

I arrive at KFC and, of course, the menu is completely different. A Mexi-Kip Broodje Wrap? What the hell is that? A Spicy Kip and Colonel Burger? What? I debated to maybe just get the popcorn chicken bucket but that did not seem good cold three hours from now and I was not ready to bike with a bucket much less show up to calss with a KFC bucket. So I ordered ...."Alsjeblieft ein niet spicy Kip and Colonel Kip Burger bij Kass" Which was my very bad Dutch way of saying "please a not spicy Colonel Chicken Burger with cheese." This was not making me feel very American.

I got my sandwich and headed out only to find it was pouring rain all of the sudden. Ahhhh Holland! What can I do? I have to get to class.

Now for the first time ever I had difficulty finding my bike. They all look the same. They do. They are all old, rusty, pieces of medal and I could not find my bike in the heap of bikes chained together in front of KFC. There I was getting drenched, shivering (because this time, for the first time, I underdressed so I could avoid sweating to much from my vigorous bike ride(bad idea)), grasping my chicken sandwich reward whose plastic bag is getting destroyed amongst this heap of bikes. I know, as usual, people are staring at me. I finally locate my bike. I was so angry at it. Then I have to unlock my bike. Which is not as easy as it seems due to this medal, rolled up, difficult to uncoil, long awkward lock and this other lock built into the bike to jam the back tire. The problem is you can't move the bike if the back tire is jammed but to unjam the tire the key needs to STAY in the lock but I need to other key on the chain to unlock the hellish coil ...oh never mind, the POINT is it is difficult and annoying to locate and unlock my damn bike. Especially in the rain holding a KFC bag!

After several attempts at leaping on to my bike seat in front of Kentucky Fried Chicken I wobble off, wet, with my ripped up KFC bag, trying desperately to reach my bike pedals and then...... THE DETOUR!..... A detour!..... A freakin bike Detour. I get caught up in a mass herd of bicyclist coming from all different directions because of some damn construction detour and we are all having to make quick last minute changes to our routes. It was terrifying. At one pint we ended up going though these muddy hilly trails. I felt like I was in some sort of BMX cross country motor race. Mud flung up on my pants and oh my poor poor dress shoes! Every once in a while they put these thick medal sheets over the larger pot holes and.... I saw it.....I saw it coming....I was just hoping to cross it with out disturbing the others bikers....please just let me make it across the metal sheet.... but no. Not for Ken. It was like slow motion. The second my front tire got on the metal, wet, muddy sheet it started sliding to the right. There was nothing I could do. My feet can't reach the ground. Thank god there were no other bikers to my right. I just slid right off the sheet vertically in to the mud. I was able to jump of my bike in time. I then waited for everyone to pass, lifted my bike and carried it passed the medal sheet, which is when I noticed my sandwich was missing. I saw it a few feet back and ran to grab it. I was slightly hysterical. My plastic sandwich handle broke. I grapped it and was relieved to see no one had run over it. I decided is was best to carry my bike until the detour was over and I was back on solid ground. I made an attempt to repair my plastic bag handle and hoped it would last till I got home that night.

The rest of the ride to class was fine. I arrived drenched and went to the bathroom to dry myself off with toilet paper. My KFC sandwich bag looked horrible. All shredded, wet and muddy. I cleaned it off with toilet paper too. I was almost too embarrassed to bring in into class, but was not about to abandon him. We had been though to much and we had big plans later.

Class was hard. We are learning about past tense verbs. Everyone is lost and confused. As usual. At one point I laughed out loud because I looked up and Mrs Wytske was standing in front of here projector. She had just written a question on the screen in red marker when one of my classmates asked a question, when Mrs Wytske stopped to figure out what my class mate was asking she stood between the projector and the screen and she had a big red question mark on the middle of her forehead! I thought it was hilarious. Class was worth it just for that! Oh Poor Mrs Wytske! She brings me such joy sometimes.

After class, it had stopped raining, I re-secured my plastic KFC bag and pedaled home. I took a completely different route as to avoid the cursed detour. I got home exhausted, got undressed put on my favorite American clothes, turned on my computer and went on youtube. Dammit no one downloaded the recent Desperate Housewives yet! I unwrapped my Colonel Kip Burger with cheese (which they forgot to give me cheese but charged me for it and made it spicy even though I specifically asked for not spicy)(this was the most familiar American part of the whole experience)! The sandwich was soggy, cold, and gross. But I ate it! It was my well earned American treat!


  1. God your posts make me laugh :)

  2. Ah, the funny, it keeps coming. And... in perspective, you probably feel exactly like a Mexican immigrant to LA who hates the language classes ("none of the nouns have gender here, and you're supposed to figure out the subject just from the verb, which are mostly the same whether they're singular or plural, except when they get totally weird -- how effed up is that?") and takes the bus to Taco Bell expecting homestyle food only to be handed a soggy tortilla full of beans and cheese that's called "Mexican".

    Or, in other words -- embrace the Dutchness. You're in a country that's a lot older than ours, and which has managed to hold it together despite a third of it being below sea level, despite most of the rest of the world not knowing the difference between Holland and the Netherlands, and thinking it's all wooden shoes and tulips.

    And... legal pot! (For residents.) That's something the US hasn't managed in 233 years. And don't knock it. Two whiffs of some Amsterdam goodness, you could probably ride your bike backwards and blindfolded, and suddenly mayonnaise and chocolate sprinkles on everything would sound like a good idea.

    BTW -- how's it going with arranging a meeting with the queen?

  3. You're the best. Although it sounds like you're having a rough time adjusting, and you're in a country that I would dread living in, I am utterly jealous of you for being able to live in Europe. It's always been a dream of mine to live there and travel around that awesome continent. Enjoy it!

  4. I think I love you after reading that! I forget what it's like to be a new American citizen of Holland!

    If you ever want to chat my email is I'm from Iowa and have been living here in Limburg for 8 yrs.

    I can tell you where to find some food items as well!

    Your story was very entertaining but if I imagined it as me, I felt SO bad for you! I've had days like that and I so wanted to run home to my Mommy in Iowa.

    It's also very hard to deal with people acting like living here is SO AWESOME OMG! when it's really not easy or fun most of the time.

    Now to read more of your entries... have to read more about your situation! I married a dutch man so that's my story!