Tuesday, February 1

safe and sound

Amsterdan - The Dresden Dolls

What do you get when you combine 11 overly caffeinated college kids in a vacant hostel, mustard soup on the stove and a continuous string of round-table sex talk? SIT Orientation week!
We’re here in Egmond, a bit north of Amsterdam right on the North Sea. From here, it’s two days in the city before heading to our host family. My pseudo-mama (apparently a doctor specializing in wound repair — clearly a match made in heaven) is on vaca, so for Friday night I’ll be staying the night at the residence of a vegan with a severe cat allergy. That’s all I know. I dig it.
I can tell that this semester is going to be a pivotal one — allow me to nerd-out for a hot sec, but I can’t wait to dive in. Part of our curriculum involves a practicum, equivalent to an internship of sorts, which we can then use to fuel our independent research component. Astrid, our coordinator, told me she could hook me up with the Amsterdam roller deby team (…there is a purpose to that endeavor, I promise) to see if I can get on the inside/PERHAPS PLAY!? Though that would easily be the icing on my semester cake… my better judgment says that my body may not be down for the beating. As of Friday, Jim, my ortho and favorite bearer of bad news, told me that I have to wait a few more months until I can start running again. If I were at home I‘d probably be a fetal position, crying/drinking heavily in the corner of Fulton 1B about how my body is in a constant state of wreck.  Butttt… I’m not. Though get plump I may, I’m confident that I can still find productivity — and happiness — here.
After doing little introductions about our interests, areas of research, etc. our Oral History professor told me about a local gender identity organization that she could also set me up with that just had a photo exhibit on female Moroccan immigrant boxers. Students in the past have done EVERYTHING for their ISP’s: worked with a gay documentary film festival, created an oral history of the lives of sex-workers here, paddled a bathtub down the canal for 30 hours and even directed (and starred in) a trans-empowering porn flick (sooo if roller derby and boxing don’t work out maybe I’ll… JUST KIDDING.)
It’s just so…stimulating? And encouraging! To be in an environment where we all have similar interests and all sorts of agendas. My favorite classes at Marist were gender related, but few and far between they fell so I was never really satisfied… I’m in awe because some of these kids are pros — from Foucault to fetishes, it’s been covered at some point in our classroom or over the dinner table in the past two days.
My comrades all seem fantastic as well — they all come from different backgrounds, different parts of the country and are all involved in really cool organizations and such back home. Everyone speaks to their expertise: whether working as an activist with the transgender community in Washington DC, navigating the queer bubbles in Chicago or… existing on the rugby pitch at Marist College (obvs got that covered), everyone has really interesting contributions and experiences that they bring to the table. Tomorrow, we’re getting a bike-riding lesson through the dunes before heading to the city center. From there — no one knows. They are kind of just herding us around like cattle.
It’s about 2 a.m. here — if I head to bed now I can get a few solid hours of snooze…
Until next time — miss you friends. Much amore. xo

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