by Niall Doherty

16.

Reading two books written by one-time lovers, and loving them both. The Fountainhead is one I’ve long been intimidated to tackle, but more enjoyable than expected. And then there’s Branden’s masterpiece on self-esteem. That’s one you have to read slowly. I’ve been working through it for almost two months now. It’s made me a better man.

17.

I told a friend I couldn’t meet him for coffee this afternoon. Of course, I could have, but I’m trying to keep my schedule sacred. 6:30am to 6:30pm, no exceptions. Tonight was another challenge, with a dinner date at my place. I could have asked her to sleep over, and it would have been nice, but she was gone by eleven. Need that rest to be at my best.

18.

What would your days look like if you had all the time and money in the world? I thought about it and decided I’d spend an hour each day reading a book and I’d take a nap every afternoon. Then I thought, shit, wait… those luxuries are available to me now! So I’m claiming them. Seems lots of time and money weren’t required, just a little prioritizing.

19.

It’s not sex that we’re having. No, this is making love. It’s a spiritual experience, lasting hours at a time. Lost in each other’s eyes, trembled by a thousand touches, awed by the occasional tear. I’ve never been this intimate with someone so fast. It feels effortless, and right, like breathing clean air from a wooded hillside somewhere south of Schafberg.

20.

Facing a familiar dilemma in this tiled and narrow room. There are two doors between us, one slightly ajar. It’s times like this I envy the Japanese and their magic buttons. I have to make do with primitive forms of aural camouflage, like a fake cough or a flowing faucet. Of course I could just kill the smoke and mirrors and let rip, take our intimacy to the next level.

Feeding swans at Lijnbaansgracht, very near the Heineken Brewery.

Feeding swans at Lijnbaansgracht, very near the Heineken Brewery.

21.

There are days when it feels like a heavy block of dull stone sits in the doorway and you can see slivers of grass and sunshine beyond but you’re trapped inside where it’s cold and grey and everything’s moving in slow motion and you can try pushing and pounding on that stone but your best bet is to step away and let it crumble beneath the weight of a good night’s sleep.

22.

Nathan Myhrvold once said that in order to do “wild, new shit… you have to be confused, upset, think you’re stupid.” Mr. Myhrvold so happens to be one of the smartest men on the planet, so it’s good to hear that coming from him. Business-wise, I’ve been going back and forth the past few days between thinking success is inevitable, and feeling confused, upset, stupid.

23.

That travel agent idea didn’t pan out. I found one that let me play with their email marketing this month, but the response wasn’t great, so we’re dropping it. I’m happy with the effort though. I took a good crack, learned a thing or two, and failed fast. As in poker, losing a hand doesn’t mean you played it poorly. I’ll keep my seat at the table.

24.

Yesterday wasn’t very productive for me, and I realized it was because I kept letting myself get distracted by email and Facebook messages, falling down endless rabbit holes of correspondence. So my key habit for today was to only check both inboxes once in the morning, and once in the evening. In between, much work got done.

25.

It’s before seven on a weekday morning and we’re taking a leisurely stroll to Rembrandtplein. One of the many things I love about this city — and you notice it now, too — are the little independent stores everywhere, the time-traveled shopfronts of tailors, cobblers, cheesemongers, barbers, publicans and coffee merchants. They’re all closed at this hour, but still alive somehow.

7am along Reguliersgracht, the famous canal of seven bridges.

7am along Reguliersgracht, the famous canal of seven bridges.

26.

I knew I’d be called upon. That’s what I get for being social before the meeting. But it’s also what I want. What’s the point of being here if you don’t get up and speak? I can feel my heart thumping in my chest, imagine invisible grocery bags hanging from my hands, aware that sixty-plus eyes are on me. Then I start talking, and it’s all a bit of a blur.

27.

We stand front of a big shiny department store on the city’s prime retail route, a street named after a medieval cattle mart. This particular spot is where Amsterdam was born, why it first became famous. There was once a shrine here, to which pilgrims flocked from far and wide, looking to absolve their sins. Now people pass by oblivious, on their way to the red light.

28.

Sunday is my day for getting organized. I have a checklist to run through: update apps, pay credit cards, inbox zero, review notes on iPhone, clean up desktop, check calendar, etc. There’s a deep sense of calm that comes from having a place for everything and everything in its place. And from simply taking time to think and plan ahead.

29.

Always lots of dogs in the park, taking their owners for a walk. I saw a beautiful wolf-like breed there today, a big powerful animal. I watched as he ran past several miniature dogs, the kind you’d expect to see in a handbag, all growling in a fluster. He was a major deal to them, his presence insistent and intimidating, while to him they were invisible.

30.

Three weeks until I release a guide I’ve been working on since October, teaching people how to work online and travel the world. I’ve perused similar guides as research and my biased brain is convinced I have them trumped. Working hard on the launch plan now, but I know the real work comes after, ensuring buyers’ dreams come through.

Home gym.

Home gym.

In the comments below, let me know which of the above Momentos is your favorite. Which can you relate to?

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