I won't say I have a big, fat Dutch family, but that's only because the statement would sound cliche. Nevertheless, my extended family on my mother's side is big, fat, and exuberantly Dutch.
Family reunions (how can they be reunions when they all live in Grand Rapids?), put quite simply, are hell. Picture an old woman that everybody crowds around and talks to, even though all she does is swear at you in Friese. Picture a huge assortment of uncles and aunts; the uncles play poker and burp a lot, the aunts discuss how that nice Dykstra boy is courting Mary Vandenaaker. Picture 15 children under the age of 6 screaming for their mothers, their diapers, or their cookies. And there are no edible cookies to feed them, only a neverending supply of rock hard windmill-shaped concoctions. You know. Just in case you didn't notice the gigantic delft collection on the wall. Or maybe you missed tripping over the giant wooden shoe in the front yard. Pair this with 5 mixed-vegetable dishes and 7 pans of brownie mix, and you've got yourself a big, fat Davies potluck.
And this occurs every other week, by my approximations.
The Davies clan all attend the same church, a small yet ancient Christian Reformed outfit in Grand Rapids. They take up 6 pews every Sunday, in addition to basically running the nursury, Sunday School, the choir, and the deacon's board. The only reason my grandfather isn't the minister is because he's too busy planting tulips to incorporate that into his schedule. Religion is basically number one in this family, and perhaps that's why I have some disdain for church-related things in general. There's nothing worse than being singled out from your family for not being able to recite Psalms 23 or whatever from memory when you can, in fact, recite the lyrics to the new J.Lo song. And believe me, J.Lo is very out there for the Davies. Anything that doesn't mention God is out there for the Davies. So for every birthday, without fail, I recieve a pile of devotional books instead of the new J.Lo CD. Which, I suppose, is a good thing.
Yet the principle of most of my family being highly religious and highly sheltered from what I consider "the real world" is probably what alienates me most from them. I am constantly monitoring myself when I am around the Davies clan--my dress, my actions, my speech ("What the hell" and "Oh my God" are not acceptable exclamations in my family, and showing any skin under your neck is thought of as heathenous.) It's not that I don't love my family, it's just that I find myself so different from them to the point that I'm not comfortable being around them.
In addition to my family attending church in Grand Rapids, they also were born in Grand Rapids. Grew up in Grand Rapids. Went to college in Grand Rapids. Currently live in Grand Rapids. Most likely will die in Grand Rapids. Their idea of a vacation is to go to Michigan's Adventure (a name I cannot hear without guffawing).
The Davies do not find my obsession with the color orange odd. In fact, they're proud. (Most of the old Dutch royalty came from the province of Orange, so the present-day Netherlands has adopted orange as its official color). While I'm happy that they can tolerate the color of my bedroom, I'm not exactly thrilled about yet another aspect of my life being tied into Dutch culture.
My grandfather (I'm supposed to call him Paka) and my grandmother (Beppe), are determined to go to every event that their grandchildren participate in, even though there's about 25 of us. And this was how I spent last night after my choir concert trying to explain who the Osbournes are ("Nobodvie's 'air is tat black!", says Beppe), how volleyball is played ("You mean you vere shorts in tee vinter?" asks Paka), and why I enjoy writing ("Do someting useful", says Paka, "Learn to cook!").
I fell asleep to the sounds of Hoogendyk guarding Baaker in the final seconds of a B-Class Christian Reformed High School basketball game taking place in Grand Rapids.
Yup. That's my big, fat, Dutch family.
Fresh squeezed by melly at 11:45 AM
Friday, March 21, 2003
Know what sucks with all the love/adventure/intruige "classic" pieces of literature?
You can get up to page 28 and figure out the entire plot, but you still have 500 pages to go.
And besides, "Count of Monte Crisco" would be a much more amusing name.
Fresh squeezed by melly at 4:01 PM
Thursday, March 20, 2003
So we're at war. I really don't know what all to add to this statement. I've made my opinions known previously, and so here we are.
It's kind of weird knowing that what you are experiencing at this very moment will someday be written down in the history books. It makes you feel kind of numb, because you're worried you won't have any cool stories to tell your grandchildren when they have to ask you where you were on a particular day for a social studies assignment. I mean, who wants to say, "Well, on the day that President Bush declared war on Iraq, I remember sitting down to watch his speech eating some tortilla chips."?
This is why I don't get overly emotional about Sept. 11. If I'm recalling correctly, I spent the day watching CNN and eating tortilla chips.
Fresh squeezed by melly at 5:30 PM
Wednesday, March 19, 2003
Travel volleyball season has started. Practices from 6-8 every night except for Fridays, and Saturdays will totally be consumed by all-day tournaments.
I apologize if my writing decreases, either in quality or content.
(Not that there was much quality to begin with, but I'm an apologetic person nonetheless.)
Fresh squeezed by melly at 9:53 PM
I have learned to say "ok" to every comment directed at me. It seems to accomadate everyone, and I see no need to elaborate. It's the quickest way to end a conversation in a civil yet quirky manner. "You're an interesting person", they say. "Ok", I say, and as I turn my head to write this exchange down a faint smile plays at my lips and a quizzical one sits at his.
I have also learned not to rub my face in public, because it scares me to think that my image is capable of being brushed off; new rose and beige and black stains resting on my unwanting fingers. Am I really that fragile? Am I really that vain?
I bury my face again, but this time the smile is larger.
Fresh squeezed by melly at 3:16 PM
Tuesday, March 18, 2003
Ever notice that on a foggy day, you can never be totally submersed in fog? You can be surrounded by it, of course, but there always seems to be a little buffer of clear air between you and the fog that you can never quite break.
This can be comforting, knowing that you can never be lost in the fog and that you can always see directly around you. Of course, it can go the other way too--it would be fun to be submersed totally, if just for a few minutes. It would be an escape. Kind of like assisted suicide, I guess.
That last sentence was a really random thought that just popped out of my head. It wasn't where I was going at all, but I'm not going to delete it.
UPDATE: Nope, no assisted suicide for Melly. Anyway.
Today I was presented with the odd realization that really cute swim instructers usually have hairy backs, in direct defiance of their cuteness. This confused me. If, then, all cute swim instructers have a quality that defies their cuteness, are any swim instructers cute at all?
Forgot biological warfare. First we have to ban chlorine. There's something going on in that thar water, cowboys.
Fresh squeezed by melly at 5:01 PM
Monday, March 17, 2003
Damn. I forgot it was "Saint" Patrick's Day today, and therefore neglected to wear green. What kind of saint is he if he allows innocent people of the sugar-driven nature to be mercilessly pinched for an entire day? I don't like green. And I couldn't even pass off the "Kiss me, I'm Irish" trick as I am not Irish, but of every other European country.
There really needs to be a Saint Willempje Day. Or even a Saint Jacaomyntje Day. For all us Dutch. And we could wear orange. I like orange.
I was at a hotel all weekend, as it was my best friend's birthday. It was a trip full of cameras, running amuck, and that annoying 50 Cent song
(Go, go, go shorty
It's your birthday
We gon' party like it's yo birthday
We gon' sip Bacardi like it's your birthday
And you know we don't give a fuck
It's not your birthday!)
Anyway. There's not much to tell, except that there was a large volleyball team and their relatives, ect. staying in the same hotel. Apparently, they were the Fruitport Trojans.
Now, I know that they can't help where they're from. But I can only imagine the Fruitport Trojan's cheerleading squad ("We are the Trojans, the Fruity Fruity Trojans!") and the condom jokes that follow.
Fresh squeezed by melly at 4:09 PM