A Coffee Mug’s Life

Our mug collection is robust and varied, crammed and stacked on top of one another in two full kitchen cupboards. Each feels important, but when I am having a particularly sensitive day, I always pick the mug with a cow.

I have a confusing relationship with this mug. It makes me contemplate the life of an object in relationship to its owner.

Several years back, I had spent a few days picking out this mug in The Netherlands when I was visiting with my now-husband, then boyfriend, Mark. At the time, Mark and I were both living in the States, one of us in Boston and the other in NYC. As we had both come many times before to the Netherlands separately, this was the first time we came together, as a pair. Our debut.

For this important event, I wanted to pick out something special for my dad. All the weed paraphernalia felt too gimmicky; the tulip key chains too generic. With my dad being a compulsive (instant) coffee drinker all day long, a mug felt just right. I carefully selected one with a cow that spoke to me, projecting a level of absurdity I knew he would enjoy.

When I came back home and gifted him this mug, it immediately became his favorite. I’d find it propped up on his bedside table, by him watching TV, always half full of cold coffee he had forgotten to drink before making himself another cup, in a different mug, also somewhere forgotten in the house. Each time I’d come to see him, I’d look approvingly at this mug, remembering all the trips to The Netherlands I had made, and despite him never having visited himself, all the times I had thought about him there.

Now that absurd cow is looking back at me as I write this post, half full of cold tea. When my dad passed away a few years ago and I was packing up both his things and my own to prepare for my move, this was the one non-clothing item I decided to take with me.

But even though I purchased it here, it still feels strange to use. This mug has made the same journey my husband and I have done many times – from The Netherlands, to America, and back. This cow is back home, yet it had an entire life before this moment. Like me, it sat with my dad outside on the porch smoking cigarettes. Like me, it kept my dad company while he watched the Pats or read a book. Hopefully, we can give this cow even more memories, different than the ones before, but still with the same amount of love. To many more years with cow cups. Cheers.

An Introduction

Hello my fine winter wanderers,

My name is Tory, and I am excited to introduce you into my life. However boring it may seem, I like to make each small experience into a story, ideally with a funny punchline at the end.

A brief note about me: I am in my mid-30s, living in The Netherlands for almost six years now, primarily in the Utrecht region, but originally from Boston with a blind and raging pride for my home state of Massachusetts (that I still struggle to spell). I have white hairs I am preoccupied with; they match the color of my cat. I live with my stereotypically looking Dutch husband, who I like. (We are still married and going strong in this pandemic life!) I have worked in universities, NYC tech start-ups and most recently in EMEA wide recruiting for global tech companies in The Netherlands. But this is not a Linkedin profile since I quit my last job at the end of January 2020 to go back to school full-time at the University of Amsterdam, finishing up (hopefully!) in June 2021. My degree, sitting at home in my PJs all day, has most closely matched with the start and potential end of this pandemic. I am concluding by doing my thesis on persuasive vaccine communication.

I have created this blog mainly because I like to write, but only when there is an audience. I live to entertain. More than 16 weeks ago, I started weekly emails to 30 or so close family members and friends to critical acclaim. (Talk about a biased audience.) So, now, feeling self satisfied and self righteous, I will start this new endeavor. I am expanding for more of the world to hear my important stories!

In these days of feeling lonely and socially isolated from each other, I have emerged as perhaps one of the most worried, the most strict, and the most cautious. As also someone who is the most loud and the most aggressive in my socialness, this paradox is challenging for me everyday. Mixed with the fact that I am following American news mostly, but living in a country under different restrictions, different mindsets and different realities, this all adds to my confusion. I found reading other people’s thoughts on the pandemic helpful when I was at my lowest; it made me feel less alone. So if nothing else, I hope I can do that for you. Also, I hope, maybe if just once, I can make you laugh.

This blog will be about my day-to-day life and my struggles as a 30 something American living in the Netherlands. I will talk about my husband, my cat, my brand new fancy Dutch digs in the suburbs, my experiences going back to school later in life, and likely whatever else may come to mind. As most other bloggers perhaps, I have always had dreams of writing an epic memoir, focusing on my dad who provided endless content until he didn’t. I never got around to writing that book, but he stays with me despite not being physically present anymore.

Through reading this blog, I’d love to say something relatable and perhaps even helpful to you. I imagine this blog for like-minded expats, fellow Americans, women in their 30s with kids or without, or men. Men are also fine, and welcome to read this! Perhaps some of my stories help other non-Dutch people navigate relationships with their Dutch partners. Perhaps you want to look at this blog for the cat pictures, or the countryside landscapes. I hope you visit often, and I hope to feel connected to you in this time of overconnected disconnectedness.

With all my love,

Tory