Purveyor of Pleasure

Pleasure is my business, my life, my joy, my purpose.

Tag: UvA

Adventures in Amsterdam: Reflections and Declarations

Adventures in Amsterdam is a series of updates about my time in Amsterdam from July 12th-August 12th attending the Summer Institute on Sexuality, Culture, and Society at the University of Amsterdam. This is a four-week certificate program focusing on eight topics around sexuality and sociology.

Yesterday was the end of the first week of classes, which also means the end of the classes I’ve had this week. Next week the two classes we move on to “Adolescent Sexuality” and “Sexual Politics in the Netherlands.” Both will be fascinating, I have no doubt, but I’m expecting the third week to be my favorite. You’ll understand why when I get there, I think.

I seem to be more outgoing here. More confident. Less shy and more expressive. I go through phases, of course, and there are times when I need to be quiet and alone and introverted, but there is something about having something to do every day that helps me. It’s different than back home, where I can spend an entire day–or multiple days–at home without interacting with anyone except for Onyx.

The lesson of the trip so far, though really of the last few weeks including before the trip, has been one of “worthing” or worthiness. What I mean by that is life seems to be conspiring to remind me of how worthy I am to be in it, and how worthy and relevant my work is to the world. I have struggled with this for a long time, as long as I can remember. I have been working on this and working up to this for a long time as well, and I have been slowly chipping away at the walls I built up around me during childhood. Chipping away at those walls that kept my tender heart safe, that kept me safe from the pain and grief of rejection and ridicule, but those walls that also kept out joy and belonging. As Brene Brown says: “you cannot selectively numb emotion,” which I would extend to you cannot selectively numb experience (though that’s basically the same statement, isn’t it?).

I have allowed myself to be disregarded and walked on because I got used to it. I put on a strong facade well, but inside I have been terrified by life. I have been terrified at fucking up and doing the wrong thing, making the wrong decision, saying the wrong thing. Of course often this experience means I keep myself from doing what I need to or want to. Often this experience paralyzes me into inaction. Often this experience keeps me from showing my full and true self to those around me, even those close to me.

I am sick and tired of living my life this way. I’m done. I’ve been dedicating myself to opening up, to connection, to vulnerability, in an intentional and conscious way now for a couple of years, and working to find the right direction for many years before that, and now I’m ready.

I’m ready to stop selling myself short and really embrace my strengths, rather than just focusing on my weaknesses and where I need to improve. I will still recognize those things, I will still work toward improvement, but I do not need to ignore the strengths in order to change the flaws. (In fact, I believe embracing the strengths will help me change the flaws; funny how that works.) I’m ready to stop cowering in the face of my own abilities.

I’m ready to stop inconveniencing myself for other people in hopes it will make them like me. What is inherent in that is the assumption that I’m not worthy of being liked, that I have to trick people into liking me because I am not good enough. I still want to offer my help to people and inconvenience myself for them at times, but to make it a common practice when first getting to know someone is just not useful. The reasons behind it are not useful.

A lot of these realizations come out of a relationship that blossomed and then wilted before I began to talk about it on here. I’ve had a draft of that up for months now and haven’t known what to say about it, which may have been a sign in and of itself. These are realizations I have needed to make for a long time, and there are more where these came from, but it’s a start.

Adventures in Amsterdam: At the End of Day Four

Adventures in Amsterdam is a series of updates about my time in Amsterdam from July 12th-August 12th attending the Summer Institute on Sexuality, Culture, and Society at the University of Amsterdam. This is a four-week certificate program focusing on eight topics around sexuality and sociology.

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One of the many canals.

It is officially the end of day four in Amsterdam. There has been much getting to know people in my program and exploring the city. Went to a karaoke bar and queer club on Saturday night, both were great fun! We were celebrating the birthday of one of the other people in my program, which was lovely.

I bought a nice bike for dirt cheap that I will hopefully be able to sell when I leave next month. I spent more on locks for it than I did on the bike! I’m really excited about the idea of exploring Amsterdam by bike. It’s been a long time since I cycled, and I forgot how much I missed it. It’s definitely easier to bike here on many levels. First, it is almost entirely flat. Second, there are bike lanes everywhere and often include special traffic lights just for bikes, which just makes it really easy. Third, bikes have the ultimate right-of-way (functionally, not legally, I think, though I could be wrong); I was told it goes: bikes, pedestrians, cars.

Today was the first day of classes. Our two classes this week are “Introduction to Sexuality, Culture, & Society” and “Professional Identity & Values Clarification.” There will be six more classes (two per week) while I’m here, and only four days of each class (we have three-day weekends). I’m enjoying the program, the reading is pretty familiar so far, but good to have it packed into one place. I went and got the reading packet copied off and bound by week, which was over 900 pages including the readings that were too large for the .pdf packet! That was more expensive than I would have liked, and probably should have gotten that done in the states before I left, but having the readings is necessary; I can’t just do pdf reading.

My Mum1 and her new beau will be coming over tomorrow for a couple of days, which will be great! I haven’t seen her in over a year and I haven’t met him yet, so I’m definitely looking forward to this. I don’t have any other plans besides that for the upcoming week except for school.

It’s mighty pretty here. If I wasn’t already in a Masters program I would be really tempted to stay and do their Gender & Sexuality program (it’s only a year!). I could go on, but I should finish some reading and go to sleep. I’ll update again soon.

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My new bike!

  1. Not my mother; Dad’s widowed girlfriend–they were together for over a decade []

Adventures in Amsterdam: Settling In

Adventures in Amsterdam is a series of updates about my time in Amsterdam from July 12th-August 12th attending the Summer Institute on Sexuality, Culture, and Society at the University of Amsterdam. This is a four-week certificate program focusing on eight topics around sexuality and sociology.

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The view from my home for the next month

I’m all settled into my room here in Amsterdam. I arrived about 27 hours ago give or take. My day yesterday consisted of waiting for three other people in my program at Schiphol Airport (we met at a Starbucks of all places), then figuring out the train to Amsterdam Centraal, and catching a taxi to our new home for the next month. Then getting into my room and having a bit of down time before heading out to explore the city a bit. I walked around for a few hours, got a power converter (probably need another one), grabbed food with a couple people in my program, and then came back to my new home for the next month and crashed. I managed to find the red light district in my wanderings, which was fun and fascinating. Somehow I got a lot of sleep last night, thanks to melatonin and jet lag, I think. Thus was my first day in Amsterdam.

It’s about 11am right now. I am mostly unpacked now, though there is still a bit of organizing to do. Realized there aren’t many things I forgot, but I should go grab another power converter and some hand soap today. So far I’m one of the oldest people in the program, which I was not really expecting, but I haven’t met everyone yet.

I like my room, and it’s a pretty decent size! The person who checked me in said he gave me one of the best rooms because my application was one of his favorites (aww, yay). I have a private kitchen and bathroom, which I’m very happy about. The only snag is I have no kitchen supplies, but some of the other people have duplicate items, so I’ll get some things from them and hopefully not have to buy much if anything. I’m also on the third floor (they say second floor here, but third floor for those in the US) so I get to walk up a couple decent flights of stairs (the ceilings in this building are quite tall) to get to my room. Good exercise! I have wired and wireless internet in my room, but my phone isn’t available as a regular phone (I haven’t decided if I’m setting it up for that or not, so it’s staying in airplane mode for the time being).

The temperature is really nice (imo) and similar to Seattle. The opening ceremonies for the program are tomorrow, so I’ll have much more information about it tomorrow. I know it in broad strokes, but that’s about it. We were sent the reading packet a few days ago via email, which is over 800 pages, so I’m sure most of my time will be spent with that over the next few weeks! Today my plans are a birthday lunch for one of my fellow students, and then possibly heading to a volunteer-run queer nightclub where Casey (who checked me in) volunteers and is organizing tonight’s event. I’m sure there will be more wandering and probably at least one trip to the store for supplies, and I might figure out how to rent a bike.

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Inside my room.

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