Feeling grown-up

Sometimes it’s the little things that can make the difference between feeling grown-up and feeling like you’re still faking it. For whatever reason having a baby doesn’t actually help me feel grown-up. I suspect it’s because most of the time as a new parent, you feel quite incompetent, so it’s a lot more faking it than most non-parents realize . . .

This week at work there was a big financing thing to send off to the government, and it meant dealing with auditors and courriers, and triple checking numbers, and getting signatures, etc. It was a relief to finally send it off, and while it wasn’t really a “little” thing, the fact that I was the one to send it and not my more senior colleague felt pretty good (even if technically it was because she was out that day). Just being the one to have the final say whether something is ready or not definitely made me feel like a grown-up.

There was also my first “lunch” at work this week. Most days, around 11am, we all look around the open space and ask “So, what are we doing for lunch?”. I’ve heard everyone else say “Oh, I have a lunch today” at least once (in French they all say “J’ai un lunch” which makes me laugh and cry at the same time). So this week it was my turn! I finally worked up the courage to ask someone from another department if she wanted to eat lunch together. This may not seem like a big deal to some people, but I am quite shy/awkward, and even eating in the cafeteria is hard for me since I’m a classic introvert who needs lots of alone time. If she wasn’t fairly new to the company, and if she hadn’t mentioned it in passing one day (“oh, we should do lunch to talk about xyz”) and if my colleague hadn’t agreed to go with me, I never would have done it. In the end, my colleague couldn’t go, so I was on my own, and more than a little nervous. It felt like being a freshman and asking to sit with a senior varsity (insert popular sport in your school) player at lunch. But of course it went fine, because being a grown-up is not only sometimes like high school . . .

And finally, the most grown-up thing I did this week was renew my monthly train pass BEFORE the end of the month instead of remembering on the way to the train station and waiting in the huge line the first morning of the month and being late to work.

The Luxembourg Amsterdam train

Actually, the title should be “The Luxembourg Amsterdam trains” since it took us three trains to make the trip. There are quicker ways to get there, but they are more expensive, and we wanted to have a bigger budget for food and fun. So we decided to take advantage of a special rate that got us both there and back for only 172€. The shorter Thalys route would have been 379€ and really it’s only a half hour to an hour shorter. Flying is around 400€ and while the flight itself is only an hour, there’s the time to get to the airport, go through security, etc.

So this special rate seemed like a good deal, even if it meant a 6 hour trip, and changing trains twice. You have to go through Liège and Maastricht to get the special rate, but you can take any of the local trains, just not the Thalys. There seem to be trains every hour along each part of the route, so no stress about one being late and missing the connection. Also, we decided to leave a bit earlier than planned on Monday, and we didn’t need to change our tickets or anything, we just got on the 9:37 instead of the 11:37.

The trip from Luxembourg to Liège was a little over 2 hours, then a half hour train from Liège to Maastricht, then a 2.5 hour ride to Amsterdam. They all had pretty standard commuter-type comfort, however the train from Liège to Maastricht was super disgusting. I wonder if maybe the two countries can’t decide who is in charge of cleaning the trains . . .

But that was the only downside to going by train. I think for the price, and the flexibility, it’s worth it. Since we were both a little sick at the beginning of the trip, a long train ride gave us time to sleep and read and just chill out. The fact that our phones were roaming meant we weren’t on Facebook the entire trip, so it was a nice way to unplug a bit and get into vacation mode. Plus there was the scenery to enjoy: the “wild north” of Luxembourg, and the shift in architecture between Belgium and the Netherlands.

There was passport control on the train once we got into the Netherlands, but there wasn’t on the way back. I take the train so often for shorter trips within France, in addition to my daily train commute into Luxembourg, and I’m not used to taking my passport with me. I set about five alarms on my phone and wrote it down in three different places so I wouldn’t forget. So I’m glad someone actually checked it!

My next post will be more about all the fun stuff we were able to do, thanks to saving money on the train!