Dena Taylor | Blog
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Light at the end of the manure

A few mornings ago I let my 82-year-old mother drive us over snow and ice to her chemotherapy treatment. Let me explain. I had been in the middle of an experiment last September-October, seeing if I could work while traveling abroad -- God it seems indulgent now -- when my sister Skyped to tell me a routine colonoscopy revealed a tumor in Mom’s colon. Looked like a juvie -- early stage -- but we wouldn’t know until it was surgically removed. They were hopeful but cancer is cancer, isn't it? It always sucks, just in varying degrees. There was no concern about her recovering from surgery; she's in excellent health for her age. Still, she's in her 80's. Knowing that I could be of help to her and to my sister who had been on the front lines of assistance, that I had the ability to "work from anywhere" (should I have work,...

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(kind of barely) Working from Anywhere: London

My Amsterdam map, by the end, was worn, speckled with inked arrows and circles and tram numbers, tearing a little along the folds. My London map, well, I didn't have one.  In fact, other than letting my friends there know I was coming, I didn't do a lick of touristy planning or research.  Maybe it was because I would be staying with people who lived there and I could just fall into their company, which would be pleasure enough. Or maybe, since I'd been to London before after college in 1988 with my high-waist stone-washed denim and permed hair, I didn't feel the pressure of everything being completely new, the pressure of having to see it all. I had seen a lot already. [caption id="attachment_1989" align="aligncenter" width="480" caption="Chihuly chandelier at the Victoria & Albert Museum"][/caption] The person that arrived in London was mainly there to visit friends, family in Manchester and attend...

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Working from Anywhere: Amsterdam – The Final Four (days)

"Did you already booked your flight to London? My cat got very sick from traveling and she is not doing very well. I was wondering if I could move in my house on Monday instead of Wednesday." It wasn't an unwelcome request. After Bruges, I was thinking about what was left to explore in Amsterdam, how I would spend my last five days. Book, blog, additional taglines for the new client, if needed, and a non-negotiable 90-minute conference call that would generate at least a half day's revisions. And there were still some attractions to experience. But I was getting a twinge of lonely. I could do those things in London from my friends' house couldn't I? What was two days? [caption id="attachment_1939" align="aligncenter" width="480" caption="Cellist in front of the newly designed Stedelijk Museum, dubbed by critics as the "bathtub.""][/caption] Leaving two days early would cost me two nights of paid-for accommodations +...

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Working from Anywhere: A few days in Bruges – Week 3

"What's a 'wijnbar'," asked the lady of the couple in front of me on the sidewalk in Bruges, pronouncing "wijn" correctly, like "wine." "It's a wine bar," said her husband flatly, like he could use a glass. Since I wouldn't know my loved one's surgery date until midweek, I kept my plans to visit Bruges, Belgium. Did you see In Bruges? So good. Need to see it again now. Anyways, I wanted to climb the belfry. And eat chocolate and drink beer. ABOUT Bruges, Belgium, is the capital and largest city of the province of West Flanders in the Flemish Region of Belgium. The Gothic city center, full of winding cobblestone streets, canals and shooting church spires is a prominent World Heritage Site of UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation).  The city charter dates to 1128. Old. Belgium is renowned for their beer and chocolate. And don't forget Jean-Claude Van Damm,...

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Working from Anywhere: Amsterdam – Weekend #3

I had just taken a bite out of my first bitterballen when he pinched my waist between his fingers and said, "But not too much! Ha ha ha!" It was my second expats function since coming to Amsterdam and would turn out to be my last. Not because of the guy, who wasn't trying to be awkward and inappropriate, I think he was just born that way, but because of timing. In part, the particular functions I was going to started later in the evening and would get quite crowded and loud. It's hard enough to have a conversation in a loud restaurant or bar. Add in a multitude of accents and it's nearly impossible. Who invited Grandma? I know, but that's how it is. And also, to the Grandma point, the functions thus far definitely trend toward a younger crowd. Maybe all of this is why I went ahead and had...

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Working from Anywhere: Amsterdam — Week 2, part II

Juggling moments, minding cracks. Make the most of each moment. I get it, I'm a believer. Whether I'm doing something touristy or writing or nothing much at all, I'm trying to be fully present -- taking in the sights, sounds, aromas, and being aware of my state of mind. One morning last week, for example, I was just waking up in the apartment rental's cave-like bedroom, where long opaque brown curtains block out the light and there's only enough room for a queen-sized bed. You literally crawl onto the bed to be in the center of the room. Anyway, I lay there listening to plane after plane thunder over the building on the way to Schiphol (sounds like skip-hol) airport. I don't know if they get redirected in bad weather or are flying lower because of bad weather but they lumber fiercely right overhead. In between I heard only rain...

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Working from Anywhere: Amsterdam – Week 2, part 1

As the shimmer dulls. Oh, that first of week of travel, when everything is shiny and new! Where did you go? Why have you forsaken me with unsexy laundry, which required downloading the English version PDF of the Samsung SWM 1200 washing machine? (Didn't know Samsung made washers but now I know the symbols for Rinse Plus and Eco Wash.) With waiting two days for everything to dry? With scrubbing of the microwave, and uh, shouldn't that have been cleaned before I got here? With having to tape shut a broken window during a whistling northern gale? Why the beeping smoke alarm battery, which required me having to climb a ladder as tall as a lamp post to make it stop, and then walk to the store to buy a battery and climb back up the ladder to put it into place? Why the trash on Mondays and Thursdays, the...

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Working from Anywhere: Amsterdam – Weekend #2

This little piggy went to market. Having polished off a new jar of Nutella (They're small, right? The jars are small. It didn't seem like much.), I am kind of a piggy and last sunny Saturday, my second in Amsterdam, I took myself to the Noordermkt. It's like a farmer's market. Some people say it's organic but I think you'd better ask to be sure. On the way there, I was sidetracked by Trakteren, a Spotted by Locals recommendation for coffee. BTW, Spotted is a great website for travelers wanting current vs. dated-guide-book tips for everything from coffee and tea to art, events, shopping, and music. [caption id="attachment_1728" align="aligncenter" width="480" caption="I love discovering a new coffee shop. Not the pot coffee shop. Just the regular cuppa Joe, croissant, let's not eat cheese puffs and take a nap while listening to Free Bird type of coffee shop."][/caption] [caption id="attachment_1729" align="aligncenter" width="640" caption="(insert slurping sounds)"][/caption] After...

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Working from Anywhere: Amsterdam – 9/26

i amtourist. Saw a lot today, so let's get on with it. [caption id="attachment_1625" align="aligncenter" width="480" caption="Nieuwe Kerk (Nieuwe = new) (kerk = church). The Dutch Republic banned Catholicism in the Netherlands in the 1580's. This church was handed over to the Protestants. Sorry Mom!"][/caption] I knew I'd be doing a lot of walking, so took the 2 tram to Dam Square, AKA tourist world. Popped into the Nieuwe Kerk, which dates back to 1408.  It's the site of Queen Beatrix’s coronation and the royal wedding of  Prince Willem-Alexander and Princess Máxima. It's also a popular exhibit space and currently features Jan Fabre as the "Church Warden." [caption id="attachment_1626" align="aligncenter" width="480" caption="Am I the only one seeing Gandalf in The Two Towers, Part 1?"][/caption] [caption id="attachment_1628" align="aligncenter" width="480" caption="There are more church photos. Sparing you...

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