Saturday, August 28, 2004

On Painting and Parties

F is back. It's very nice to have him here. He's a very pleasant person and he makes me laugh a lot. I'm very comfortable sitting with him or shopping or what have you.

I got an e-mail last night from a guy about a story I submitted recently. It was just a critique, but it threw me for a bit of a loop. It surprised me. I went to that very dark place of "I suck" and "I'll never be any good" for just a moment. I hate that. I think I was just over tired and a little overwhelmed by things. I'm so glad that doesn't happen much. It wasn't even really that he didn't like the story as much as that he felt like it was not as natural as when I tell a story in real life. It wasn't: "It's not good" as much as "It's not you."

F and I painted a wall in the bedroom red today. It needs two coats. It's more work than I really feel like doing. The carpet people are coming Monday to install the new carpet. Should be nice. It'll be good to have the whole thing done. All of this is to appease the guy downstairs. Okay...the paint is for us, but the carpet thing is so he won't complain any more about how loud we walk.

We're going to a party tonight for a friend of F's - L. Should be a lot of Dutch. But they're Amsterdamers so I'm sure it won't be too horrible. I wonder if my Dutch will be up to speed. Not too worried. It will be or it won't. If it is, good, if not, they'll slow down, speak English, or leave me in the dust. It's usually the latter. I spend a lot of time alone with my own thoughts at parties like this. I feel like I should write a book for people moving here from a non-EU country for a Dutch partner. One item would be: Get used to spending time alone at parties, and be pleasant about it. People cope with this problem is a variety of ways.

One woman I know refuses to learn Dutch - she's a professor at a University and is too busy to learn Dutch. But she complains loudly if people speak Dutch around her at, for instance, a party. So she'd be no good with F's friends. Another woman I know will take a book to parties and sit and read when they don't talk to her. I stand and watch people. When people are telling a story to a group you are in and you watch them and nod, they assume you are following them. Of course they year the thoughts and ideas coming out of their mouth and they assume that you do. It's the same logic as speaking louder to foreigners - or even more clearly when they don't know English. So I nod and they glance at me and think I get it. I think you can also get a LOT out of a conversation by watching how people interact. Without the content mucking up everything it is very clear how people are with each other - what their true relationships are like. How close they are, things they do with their eyes.

I'm learning Dutch as quickly as I can but then I go to these parties and people talk quickly and with sentence fragments and they don't use my vocabulary list and there are coloquial sayings and I get lost quickly. No matter. It's just an early party and then we're off to dinner. And F knows basically what I understand. So he talks to my level. It's quite encouraging. That's one of the most wonderful caring things a guy can do.

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