I arrived back in Maastricht to find that the Christmas lights had been grown from the lamp-posts over the weekend. Its a little scary – still 10 days until Thanksgiving and the pressure is already building.
The controversy about Zwarte Piet has intensified this year, following comments by a UN worker that the character is racist. A Facebook page defending the character gathered nearly 1 million Likes in a few days, including (tijdelijk) mine after a Dutch friend pointed it out. That elicited a barrage of messages from friends requesting that I reconsider. People’s perception is the meaning in this case, and so I pulled my less-than-well-considered endorsement. The Times weighed in with a good summary today – I suspect that Piet’s days are numbered.
Delightfully, CNN has decided that my job, Biom3edical Engineer, is the Best Job in America. They rate my quality of life as “Personal satisfaction: A, Benefit to society: A, Flexibility: B, Low stress: A.” 2 of four accurate, anyway…its the expat-entrepreneurial kicker that makes the difference.
Elf-elf arrived last week – the traditional start of Carnivale on November 11. I was too busy to participate, too busy even to notice the hoards of costumed youth streaming into the city centre. I noticed the difference as I cycled to Dutch lessons, though, and joined a friend to go see the festivities in the Vrijhof Square at mid-afternoon. Unfortunately I had given her a bottle of syrup, which the gate-checkers wanted to confiscate before she entered, and that was the end of the pre-party for us. Still, with temperatures dropping, it’s nice to know that the traditional feest is waiting.
‘only four months away.