on long distance

I think my family is more suited to long-distance living than others, given as we’ve been doing it for a while. It can make things a little complicated, to have my sister and I in the States, my mom and my other sister in the Netherlands, and a dad who flies back and forth between the two, but with Skype, Whatsapp, and frequent flyer miles, we make it work. It can make me kind of jealous, sometimes, when my friends take their family clans for granted, because I don’t have that and will likely not have that. But on a day-to-day basis, I think it’s a miracle my family has survived all that it has and come out as intact as it as, so who am I to complain if it takes some juggling of time zones?

This past weekend, though, I missed my family fiercely. Easter weekend always meant visiting my mom, eating sumptuous feasts, enjoying the sun in her yard, and other such low-key family togetherness. Easter has always been my mom’s holiday, while I associate Christmas much more with my dad. But this Easter weekend, I was stuck so many thousand miles away, and although I did make scones so we’d have some kind of special breakfast, it wasn’t the same and I will confess to crying a little bit that morning.


I mean, look at all this food! Our breakfast of scones, bacon, and eggs seems paltry by comparison.

It’s something I’ve been working out over the past few months, as L. and I have gotten more serious: being with L., and imagining a happy future with him, means not forgetting about my Dutch side (as if that could happen–if I’m not paying attention and L. asks me something, I’m as likely to blurt out something in Dutch as I am in English) but kind of putting it on hold, if that makes sense. And as happy as I’ve been, it’s also been kind of a mourning process that there are some things I can’t share with L., because of language barriers or cultural differences or whatever.

This isn’t L.’s fault–he’s never been anything but appreciative of my Dutch side, and we already talked about the possibilities of moving to Europe for a while someday, and he listens to me talk about Europe with genuine interest. He practices the vowels in my name in an attempt to get them authentically right, texts me Dutch phrases with a little help of Google Translate, and tells me we can go to the Netherlands any time I want. So he’s doing everything right. It’s just the reality, that a future with L. most likely means¬† living an ocean away from my friends and family and a place that still very much feels like home. I expect it will get easier over time, even if it’s a bittersweet kind of process right now.

But in the meantime, I’m particularly grateful for Skype, as it got me a little closer to my other home.

And for F., A’s boyfriend, who captured this picture of my mom and my sister, skyping with me and obviously having fun while doing it. It makes me homesick and happy at the same time, which, all things considered, is not a bad place to be.


happy valentine’s day, indeed

Yesterday, I got an unexpected present. There was a padded envelope in the mailbox with my name on it, and inside, I found this:

WP_000864After Christmas break, Dino had stayed with E., and I am delighted to have him back with me.


With a sister like this, who needs a date? Thank you, E.

a love letter to my friends

I do not have a date for Valentine’s Day tomorrow. I didn’t have one last year, either. Don’t worry, I don’t really care. When I think about all the reasons why I’d like to have someone in my life, celebrating Valentine’s Day does not make it on to the list. (No offense to those of you that go all out–that’s just not my idea of romance.) But what I do have is an unhealthy fixation with Parks and Recreation, and thus the felt need to celebrate¬†Galentine’s Day. So here we go: my love letter to my female friends.

I am blessed with so many lovely ladies in my life. You know who you are, and you make my life better every single day, with your Skype calls and blog comments and texts and cards sent through the mail, with HIMYM marathons and coffee breaks and museum visits, with chats about nothing and everything,¬† with endless patience for all my quirks, with refuge when I need it, and even when I don’t. I never do things the easy way (see: moving countries twice in three years), and I am incredibly appreciative of all the ways you cheer me on. I am lucky to know all of you. If most of you weren’t living an ocean away, I’d invite you all over for coffee and the breakfast food of your choice, but this will have to do for now. Thank you for being my friend.


To any male friends reading this, I love you too. Just not today. via

(If this post makes no sense to you, it’s a sign you need to repent and start watching Parks and Recreation. Seriously.)

Christmas, in pictures

Ribbet collageThe new ornaments we bought on the afternoon of Christmas Eve: from left to right, my dad’s, my sister’s (it’s a narwhal, if you’re wondering, isn’t that cool?), mine, and the Cal hoodie my dad let me buy because you cannot show too much love to Berkeley in this family.

DSCN3467I forgot to show you this one earlier. I bought it in Houston in June, when my friend T. and I visited the Johnson Space Center. My dad (the astrophysicist) had a good laugh over it.


Christmas dinner. The pumpkin pie isn’t pictured, but you better believe I was looking forward to that.


The dinosaur was there, too, of course, with his own little Santa hat.


And a trip to the Nutcracker on the 26th, just to round things off. That was magical, as always.

It was a pretty good Christmas, as I’m sure you can see.

oh christmas tree

E. and I flew into San Francisco on Thursday, and I pretty much don’t even remember eating dinner, that’s how tired I was. So after a long night’s sleep, we started off Friday with a latte and a crossword (of course) at Brewed Awakening, one of our favorite coffee places here in Berkeley. Then commenced the Buying of The Christmas Tree, which mostly turned into the Driving To A Plethora Of Stores To Buy Lights and Ornaments, And Then To The Target and Home Depot Two Towns Over Because Everything Is Sold Out Everywhere. And then we discovered that the CVS near our house was actually well stocked with everything we needed, and we could have avoided all the drama involved in fighting through the throngs of people and cars. But we got our tree, that’s what matters. And because what makes the tree special is the ornaments, here are my favorites:

Ribbet collage2I bought the colander ornament at Sur la Table in San Francisco, because I love cooking and colanders are cool. The middle ornament comes from the White House gift shop in DC, and the ornament on the right is meant to be a Buckingham Palace guard from my visit to York to see E. It was more recognizable before I dropped it and severed its head from its body.

Ribbet collage1Peets (and/or coffee) is a big part of our lives here, as you can tell by these ornaments (one for each of the last three years). If we keep this up, we can one day do an entire tree dedicated to coffee. I would like that.


So, technically, I’m not in the Christmas spirit yet, as Sinterklaas hasn’t come and gone yet. Even though I’m not actually celebrating Sinterklaas this year, I have to stay true to my semi-Dutch heritage. So I’ve got a few more days before I can let loose.

But I saw this on Facebook, and it got me in a pre-emptive Christmas mood, and I thought I’d share.

We read this book every year, on Christmas Eve. It’s not Christmas if we haven’t passed it around, each of us taking a page. Kermit never makes an appearance, which is too bad, but I think we do pretty well on our own.

This year, B. will be taking part of our Christmas Eve festivities for the first time, as we spent Christmas Eve at home last year. I haven’t told him about the book readings yet, as he performs best when he’s doesn’t have time to brood on how silly he might feel ahead of time. But don’t tell him I said that…