Tuesday, June 30, 2009

this morning i found an unfamiliar piece of lingerie in my bed. i dont know how it got there. i was flirting with a graphic design student from brazil who studies in italy and is here in berlin to look at schools. i know it was not his lingerie.

hung over in berlin. coffee, just some fucking coffee, some green-painted picnic table on the street, in front of a cafe. four persian men are joking and being loudly amicable. cigarettes being enthusiastically truncated by four loudly amicable train stacks. they have two vans that are totally packed with orangina. one of them gets up from their table to slide open the door and boom, there they are, like bricks in a wall, all these bottles of orangina. cigarette smoke. the sound of a palm slapping a green painted table top.

i am watching the bicyclists buzz by. it is good to be back in germany. there is a tremendously tangible difference between countries that did and did not get money as a result of the marshall plan. even a shitty handle on the german language is better than a zero handle on czech or slovakian. on the other hand, coffee with baileys -or a similar alcohol- was available almost everywhere in prague. gott damn you, germany, you aint measuring up.

coffee and europe have a different sort of relationship than coffee and california. if one orders a kaffee -a groß kaffee - it is very likely that one will receive a couple shots of espresso instead of our watered down home drip-and-dunk. there are starbucks everywhere, and i have only broken once. it was across the street from the staatopera in vienna and it was raining and i was alone and the classical architecture was overwhelming. just a fucking cup of coffee.

adam and i have lost all sort of a plan; the only thing we are sticking to is our final date of departure. everything is up to chance.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

one anecdote:

adam and i had been seperated at the train station, but we both decided to get on a train to salzburg as planned and see if we could find the other there. it never happened, and i didnt end up seeing him until a couple nights into vienna. (during the elapsed time he had gone through slovenia, croatia and italy in a search for a small town in the mountains where his great grandfather was born. i cant begin to tell the story as well as he can, so i wont even try. lets just say it involved impossible train stations, armed gaurds, snaked, deserted mountain paths, and people showing him baby pictures of his mother.)

so i took the train from munich to salzburg on my own. three people sat down with me -- two men and a woman, all wearing jean jackets. the woman was wearing aviators, and one of the men had a mullet. this same man was carrying a beer and small dog prone to explosive sneezing. (if there is one thing i love about munich, its the open-container policy. moreover, all city dwellers have to pay a pretty hefty dog tax, which means that people who have dogs tend to actually want them.) we ended up making conversation of sorts, between my shitty german and the aviator-lady's pretty decent english. i asked about the words for sneeze and rain, the mullet man asked me if i lived near highway 101 in california. the other man didnt know any english at all, except for one phrase which he kept repeating after he saw it made me laugh:

"yes we can! yes we can! yes we can!"
just landed in prague. adam and i ate at a chinese restaurant down the street from the hostel. we were the only people in the restaurant, and some music came on magically just after we ordered. christmas muzak tunes. chinese food in the czech republic. its like we have some existential point to prove.

or maybe just i do, i dont know.

yesterday was the great bratislava adventure, during which the emphasis changed from being in bratislava to getting to bratislava. another point to prove. i am putting forth the hypothesis that slavic train stations are actually portals into another dimension -- kiosks open and close with apparently zero relationship to the clock, bus tickets are indistinguishable from parking tickets, the hallways are always empty and echoing even if there is no sound to be echoed, it felt like. deserted. there is a definate case of the fuck-its going on in bratislavia; things are falling apart, and its not that they dont have enough money to fix things up - which they dont - but also that nobody seems to care. pride of residence. adam and i bought some ice creams in the station (the only open kiosk and the only visible source of food) and ate the while waiting for the train back to wien. it felt ridiculously decadent.

and it felt good to get back to wien, back into the week of rain in the city of museums and sophisticated music. the sun came out this morning and i had a difficult time recognizing the city.

the more i learn about these cities and the more i talk to (read: drink with) strangers from other countries, the more i learn about myself. part of me wants to say that if my teacher hadnt died, i wouldnt have gone on this trip.

once i start thinking that, i know that i am thinking too much.

into the most haunted city in europe!

Monday, June 22, 2009

i went to mass at st stephens cathedral this evening to hear the schubert b minor. while the priest was droning on in german, which is a language that i can only use to navigate train stations and buy beer, i began thinking a lot about this last year. somewhere between exhaustion, frustration, and epiphany, i began to cry. the lady sitting to my right handed me a tissue, the lady to the left smiled at me and whispered something in german. they must have thought i was very pious, or guilty, or both.

vienna is very museum-heavy, man. kind of has a brutishly classical industrial feel.

it is raining quite a bit and i am too proud to buy an umbrella.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

i am in a hostel right now on the outskirts of vienna. my cousin --adam-- and i have been seperated -- more on that later --, and i leapt at the chance of a bed for 15€. i can look out the open window to my left, the cool air blowing up from the city that is spread out below. i have a room to myself, but it is rural and lonely, and i am anticipating meeting adam in a couple of days down where the fireworks are coming from.

i have five hundred things to say, but i am also eager to catch the first train out of here in the morning, so to bed soon. i have been living very much moment to moment, and it has worked out splendidly. adam and i have hooked up with the dubliners something real -- we'll be randez-vousing a couple more times around the continent.

primary nutrients: kepabs, beer, and pitarittos (pita bread with stuff in it, all rolled up in the style of a burrito)

a realization: i miss the city already.

this trip is making my heart explode. i am continuously overwhelmed with joy. tomorrow i will descend into the city by myself, speaking shitfaced german and wearing an orange dress. aaahaaaaaa.

also, you can buy beer from vending machines here.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

this post brought to you from munich, germany, where the y and the z have been switched on the keyboard, where the @ sign must be achieved through previously unknown keyboard shortcuts, from the capital of nazi germany, where the sun rises nine full hours earlier than it does over the small town in which i go to university, from "the world's most livable city", from 24 degrees Celcius and i dont even know what that really means except, yeah, this is nice.

ich spreche nicht deutsch?

my cousin and i -- with whom, by the way, i have never spent more than 24 hours prior to this trip -- are currently staying in a hostel whose name attracts an ungainly percentage of austrailians. second to austrailians in number are the british, and then our own idiot americanas, fatly waving our flag at no3. last night, the cousin went out to drink with three irish students who are sharing a room with us, and has spent the day hitherto in less than full form.

the hostel therefore functions primarily in english, which is nice -- coming in from the humid street after a day of aggressively sans-serif letters strung together in combinations that approach total madness -- "it is like the language drank too much beer and so began to slur all of its words together", or "the dictionary collapsed in on itself". on the other hand, the cous and i are having a wonderful time learning about butchering this linguistic atrocity, and it would be fun to try and communicate in spanish-french-quasigerman watercolors of sound with strangers and, well, see how far we could get before everything would fall totally to pieces. das ict ... broccoli. or, rather, Broccoli.

it is also really interesting to see strange translations from german to english -- it is the same sort of flavor as engrish, though it is the syntax that devlopes a strange flavor. i cant think of any immediate examples, especially since my time on this poooter is running short.

went to dachau, was sobering, flocks of german teens laughing irreverantly in the gas chambers.


Saturday, June 13, 2009

i dont know if anybody else will find this as funny as the members of my family do, but here we go:
from my father to my uncle:

Hi Rich,
Here is that undersized unit I was noticing,
take care, Rodney

from my uncle to my father:

As noted on Sunday, your analysis was absolutely correct ... Not only is the unit too small, based on the brick facade seen in the background, it is also the wrong color. I will forward this to the Carrier School of Sizing next week.
Because of people like you we can size this stuff one unit at a time.

Senior Sizing Coordinator
Carrier Corp.

Friday, June 5, 2009

good friend, bare lightbulb, empty apartment, impromptu tripod, garbage bags.