i was introduced to the book club by my friend, cait, a supercute texan who i met at my unitarian universalist church in amsterdam a few months ago. cait moved here briefly this autumn and has since moved back to the states, but while she was here i got to meet up with her just a couple of times. as it turns out, cait's sister, jenna, who lives out here and is married to a dutch man, is involved in this all-women, english-speaking book club. so cait invited me to come to one of their meetings, since it was just right next door in enschede. i was all, "oh, i don't know, i haven't read the book so i wouldn't know what to talk about." and cait said it wouldn't matter and that i should come anyway. and as it turned out, even the hostess hadn't read the book either. so i fit right in. we hung out and ate too much amazing food, and i left several hours later feeling so loved and accepted by all the girls that i couldn't wait to meet up with them again.
so, fast forward about 6 weeks, and it's time for our next meeting. i offered to host it here, but with the understanding that everyone needed to bring a small snack to share and that they all had to get their own drinks. (this is very american, and NOT very dutch at all. usually when you host something, you REALLY host it, and you make all the food and everything. and if someone wants a drink, you get it for them, because that is the proper and polite way to do things. but i explained to the girls -- and they ALL understood -- that at 7 1/2 months pregnant, i was fine cleaning my bathroom and sweeping my floor for them, and basically just providing a space for us to meet in, but when it came to making food and getting up every 20 minutes to freshen people's drinks, there was no way i'd have the energy for that. so when they came i just briefly showed them where the hot water and teacups were, and invited them to make themselves at home, and then i sat my pregnant ass down and let them do all the work. that's very american, but i think fairly impolite in dutch culture. fortunately, all the ladies are totally awesome and laid back, and were more than understanding of my "condition," so they all helped themselves to whatever they needed and it just made my life a lot easier. dank jullie, meisjes!)
we discussed middlesex, a book about hermaphrodism and immigration, among other things, and drank tea and ate the snacks that everyone brought. marie jose', the only dutch woman at the meeting that day, had to leave early to celebrate sinterklaas with her family, but the rest of us (jenna, and then sabrina and kelly, who both came to my intocht party) hung out for several more hours and we all had a potluck dinner to celebrate the holiday season. i found out from one of the boys -- the partners were invited to have dinner with us after the book club meeting had ended -- that the dutch word for "potluck" is amerikaanse feestje, or "american-style party." i'm not sure if it's because it's just very american to have potluck dinners, or if they're making fun of us for being lazy hosts. like how we make fun of the dutch and how cheap they can be when we say that we're "going dutch" on the bill for example. but i think it's totally sweet that a potluck is an amerikaanse feestje because i LOVE potlucks, so i'm happy to claim that word as something postively american! in fact, when i requested that we do more potlucks in the future when we meet at someone else's house, all the girls were like "no way! if you're coming to my house then i want to host it!" but at the same time they seemed open to the idea of whenever they come to my house, we do it "american-style" with dishes and drinks responsibilities shared equally amongst all of us. maybe because i'm pregnant, and will soon have a baby to take care of, i have a good enough excuse to get off the hook with all this cooking and drink-fetching business. fine by me!
there was more than enough food for everyone -- chicken, rice, potato salad, some amazing vegetable salads, a delicious belgian chocolate cake that tasted like oreos but better if you can believe it, wine, alcohol-free wine that i thought would be just like juice (isn't that what alcohol free wine is?) but was much tastier, and apple crisp. in fact, i'm still eating leftovers.
adam, as it turned out, has a lot in common with all the men who showed up: they all have some connection to the university here (whether they are currently studying, have already graduated, or work there), and adam even shares a birthday with sabrina's partner, tom. isn't that cool?
we all hung out until about 10:00 pm and then i think i fell asleep before my head even hit the pillow. it was a really lovely evening and i am looking forward to our next gathering, assuming that i haven't had the baby by then (it's one week before my due date!).