Taking This show on the Road

About two years ago, Bryan and I traveled constantly, in anticipation of never, ever being able to travel again. We knew we wanted a baby, and everyone very helpfully told us our lives would suck afterward. Also, that we’d never have sex again. Or read a magazine all the way through.

As it turns out, Hank is a happy, flexible guy. He was born that way, so we can’t take much credit, though we’d clearly blame only ourselves if he convulsed with fury at any deviation from routine. Such is parenting.

Fortunately, Hank is so mellow that our largest concern is whether he’ll just hand bullies his lunch money and sigh when he’s older. He doesn’t cry much on planes, or have trouble being in new places. We’re able to put him to sleep even out in the world (thanks Happiest Baby on the Block
!), and he often seems even more content when we travel because he has constant access to both of us.

It’s true that in some ways, traveling with a baby isn’t as much fun as traveling on your own. Especially at first, it was frustrating being unable to go wherever we wanted. In Amsterdam I worried excessively about getting lost and running out of formula or diapers. Of course, Amsterdam has drugstores every three feet or so, but apparently I thought the Dutch allowed their children to crap in the streets and fed them only chocolate until they were old enough for unpasteurized cheese. Live and learn.

At any rate, even when I’m up at 3 a.m. with a wide-awake Henry who hasn’t adjusted to the time change, traveling is still so much fun for us — I can hardly complain that it used to be 10 percent easier. Also, there are so many things about travel that are better with a baby. Hank definitely notices the stuff we’d speed right past, like friendly dogs, or cigarette butts. People are incredibly kind to you, and you waste less time sleeping off hangovers or wondering where the hell you just woke up.

One of the places we visited on our whirlwind pre-baby tour was Argentina, and we fell in love with Buenos Aires. Today, we fly back to live there for a month. (Bryan’s company closes for a couple weeks in winter, and he’s tacking on a couple weeks of his remaining paternity leave.) I’m so excited my stomach is actually flipping every time I think of it. Of course, it’s possible I have some kind of flu, in which case the fifteen-hour flight is going to be even less pleasant than I anticipated.

Anyway, now’s the time to flood me with Argentina tips if you missed your chance last time. We’d like to do every fun thing available, so don’t hold back. We’re also talking about arranging a meet-up, so let us know if you’ll be around too. You can even meet Hank. He’ll be the one eating cigarette butts out of the ashtray.



Amsterdam goals:

1. Sample unpasteurized cheese at the Wegewijs Cheese Shoppe (Rozengracht 32).
2. Visit the Looier antiques market.
3. See what it’s like to smoke pot legally at The Greenhouse.
4. Try raw herring in season.
5. Choose flowers for the apartment at the floating Bloemenmarkt.
6. Buy some Dutch chocolate at Puccini Bomboni.
7. See van Gogh’s self portrait in real life.
8. Take a boat ride on the canal with the baby.

3.785 Litres

Our first day in Amsterdam, I approach the counter to order my coffee:

-May I have a latte?
-This may be a silly question, but do you have lowfat milk?
-What do you mean? For your coffee?
– Yes. I usually order my lattes with lowfat milk, but I don’t think they have that here.
-No, we don’t have that.
-OK, no problem.
-Why do you want that? You don’t want foam?
-No. We do that because the lattes in the states are the size of a gallon of milk, and I don’t want to get fat.
-Ah. How much is a gallon?


We head back to Amsterdam Tuesday. On our last visit I was oblivious to my new state of pregnancy, which made me very moody (you may recall the Midget Busker Incident). I’m hoping the entire city won’t seem so vaguely uncomfortable this time around. Of course, this time we’ll have a baby with us, so perhaps that’s wishful thinking. Speaking of which, comments on taking international flights with infants and “Amsterdam with a baby” ideas would be much appreciated.

I’m kidding! About the brie.

Bird Sticker

Originally uploaded by MaggieMason.

A few firsts I experienced in Amsterdam:

Small bird stickers on the huge train station windows keep birds from smacking into them.
Raw sausages
Lights go from red to yellow to green.
Bitterballen, a bar snack that tastes like deep-fried gravy with bits of meat.
Soap dispensers that sprayed soap in a fine mist.
Soft and salty licorice.
Brie with a big hole in the middle of the wheel, making for easy slicing.
Sex with a prostitute. (Okay, three prostitutes.)

That’s Entertinment

Between jet lag and three days of 24-hour sun in Iceland, we roll out of bed on our first day in Amsterdam at around 1:30 p.m.

This same afternoon Bryan needs to look at the theater where Adaptive Path is holding its workshop, so we set out together. We are groggy, hungry, cranky, and mildly disoriented. It’s times like this when Bryan decides to be wrong about everything.

We bicker all the way to our destination, where I decide to leave him to his work and have breakfast without him, as I have obviously married an insane person and need some time alone to think about what Jennifer Connolly would do in my situation.

I mope my way over to a quiet table at a restaurant situated on a cobblestone square. I order, open my magazine, and settle in to nurse my wounds over a long, peaceful article about scandal in the world of ornithology.

At just this moment, a guitar player stops in front of me. He begins to strum. I press my lips until they are perfectly horizontal with distaste. He strums louder. I glower at him from under my eyebrows and furrow my forehead. He moves a few steps closer.

He is strumming a Beatles tune. Such a familiar one that it’s difficult to concentrate over the noise. I hold my magazine in front of my face and begin to count backwards from ten.

Then, a singing midget strolls from the square to join him.

You heard me.

This, of course, is a personal insult from the universe delivered with a small white card on which my name is inscribed. It is the perfect storm of busking. As the little person launches into her version of “Crazy Little thing Called Love,” I slouch deeper into my chair and begin to whimper.

By contrast, the couple at the next table gives out a whoop and claps in time, bouncing in their chairs. What is this crazy thing, they wonder? This crazy little thing called love? As it turns out, my psychic powers are not strong enough to cause them to spontaneously combust.

As each song ends, I will it to be the last. Instead, the midget waxes philosophical about love, smoothly transitioning into the next ditty. “Ladies and gentleman, while it’s true that money can’t buy me love, it’s something each and every one of us needs. After all, without love where would we be now?”

My breakfast finally arrives, and I fume over my eggs, as they croon two more Beatles songs, “Eternal Flame,” and several Doobie Brothers classics.

At each new song, the couple next to me whoops anew. They have begun to sing along. I contemplate throwing my knife at them, and decide it would be too risky. I contemplate throwing my fork at them. Finally, things seem to be wrapping up.

“And we thank you, ladies and gentlemen for ‘listenin’ to the music,’ and we ask you, isn’t it a ‘wonderful world’?”

Midway through the song, just as you can hear Louis Armstrong moaning softly from his grave, Bryan arrives. Comforting, sweet, mobile Bryan. “Wow,” he says. “You lucked out.” I sigh heavily, drop my head to his shoulder, and reach for the bill.