Thursday, July 22, 2010

feels good to work on photos just a little bit. probably shouldnt be monopolizing the computer, but SUCK IT, DRUNK HOSTEL GUESTS. i miss my own camera, though ladyfriend has been kind enough to loan me her point and shoot. i feel like i've lost an eye.


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

emily's socially retarded dialogues, entry no.1262

list of characters:
older man. hostel guest. eating lunch alone at the bar.
emily. at the out of tune piano with a printout of beethoven opus 109, 3rd mvt.

man. you play the piano?
emily. i'm looking for the theme.
man. it sounds nice.
emily. no, like halfway through the fourth variation it just evaporates.
man. i'm sorry about that.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

(sorry for whatever spelling mistakes there might be, or tense shifts, or whatever.)

so you build your house out of wood and it is five hundred years old, and your family has lived next door for five hundred years and all of your family dramas are older than the united states. there are only two kinds of people here: tourists and farmers. the farmers are incredibly proud. 'farmers think only the farmers work,' my host tells me. 'so all of these people in my family don't think i am good enough for my husband, and they dont talk to me.' which is a problem when your family is most of the people in the village.

but if you stay here long enough, the locals who come stomping into the restaurant for an afternoon beer or a batch of rösti (hashbrowns and sausages) about the size of a pig that is being fried out back, their boots leaving cow shit [cuesheiße] and mud under the tables with the green tablecloths that i ironed, orange pants and hands like bricks, realize that you look familiar, and that you've been around a while, and that you're greeting them with the local verson of 'whatsup' (salle).

we have made two significant contacts hitherto:

1. the old woman

like all good swiss farmers, she smells of old sweat and hearty cheese. sitting outside of her house, she tells us to guess how old she is. we write down numbers on a map of the region. we can't communicate with words, so instead we use symbols. 60? nicht. 65? nay. 71? ja.

she asks us on a hike, and is very picky about what we bring. only three fruits, one bar of chocolate, one water bottle. she strikes the things that we pass with her umbrella and saying their name. rock [steine], grass [grasse], helicopter [helicopter]. bench [bank, pronounced 'bonk'] is easy to remember because it means 'bank' in french, and something totally differerent in english. she keeps a steady pace and could apparently walk all day. we pass a group of british tourists in red linen pants and quilted jackets, complaining about how high they have to lift their legs. we pass an american family with khaki shorts and trainers and sticks and bags and cameras hanging off their neck. all of the swiss people stop her, bring her into their huts for wheels of cheese or milkshakes. in a single day, she fed us a milkshake, cookies, donuts, ice cream, rubarb syrup and chocolate. not knowing a polite way to communicate, 'no thanks', we ate every item proffered. at the top of a hill she stops and removes a shoebox from her pack. it is full of photographs of the region that she took over the last 40 years or so. she sells them for 2,50 francs and tells us to stand next to a waterfall for a picture. she's using film. a pentax camera. i wonder if we'll be selling for 2,50 francs in the milkshake hut, too. at the top of another hill she stops and, without an provocation, proceeds to performs a headsand [kopfstand]. her shirt falls down and comes unbuttoned. 'ich bin sexy,' she chuckles.

a couple weeks later we are able to start a series of primitive dialogues. they often go something like this:

good morning, therese. did you sleep well?
yes. [something lengthy, enthusiastic, and unintelligible.]
oh, sehr good!


hello! do you want to wander [hike] today?
nicht, but morgen?
nicht morgen. morgen morgen?
nay - morgen morgen morgen?
nay, nay. morgen morgen morgen morgen.
ja, sehr good wanderen morgen morgen morgen morgen. das ist good.
ist good.

2. the sketchy trashman

the other local comes to the hostel every monday and wednesday to pick up the trash and recycling. my ladyfriend was helping him load the recycling and he asked her if she wanted to help him. she jumped in his truck and left. when she came back to the hostel, it was with an invitation to bring friends up to his hut for dinner on saturday. i was a little cautious about this, but we brought four people. and he looked skinny, so if we needed to, we could take him.

it was a two hour hike to his hut. this is considered local. tourists hike in a day what we did in an evening to get to dinner.

his major dream in life was to be an american cowboy. he had an old american flintlock on the wall next to the stairs, and of tooled piece leather with a donkey profile tacked onto the door. he wore a belt buckle with a pistol on it and kept photographs of his horses in the small cupboard above the table. everything in his hut he had retrieved from the garbage: the stove, the table, the pots and pans. we crammed ourselves into the tiny kitchen (which smelled like old sweat and hearty cheese), around the stove for warmth. there was a massive piece of (hearty) cheese, like a paperback novel, on the table, and he cut off a large wedge. 'this is for me,' he said, and then cut off the rind. 'and this is for the little fox.' he threw the rind out the window. he cooked rösti and pasta. he told all of his stories in very short sentences, in the present tense. after dinner, he brought out his accordion and played several short pieces in a choppy way that was not unlike how he spoke.

some of the selections were:

mama, dont let your babies grow up to be cowboys
home on the range, and
la chupacabra

everything was awkward but pleasant until it came time to leave, at which point he suddenly became quite adgitated. why dont you stay? why do you need to go back tonight? will anybody miss you?

we're a two hour hike in the dark away from home and this swiss man who has been eyeballing my girlfriend (and we have all been ignoring it) all night long doesnt want us to leave. he told us to go upstairs at least, to see the rest of his hut. there are six beds in a very small space, and he says, 'it is like the hostel, yes?' we nod.

and then he wraps his arms around my girlfriend's waist and tries to throw her on one of the beds. it is very sudden and very strange and we get the fuck out of there right quick. we can barely see the path and a large white dog materializes out of the darkness, snarling. i just about wet myself.

getting back to a village with one lighted window at midnight feels pretty damn good. the cable car station at night looks like a docking zone from star wars.

when he came back on monday, we hid in the laundry room to avoid having to talk to him.

sometimes i find myself looking around and wondering WHAT THE FUCK AM I DOING HERE UNTIL SEPTEMBER.

but that's okay.

Friday, July 2, 2010

one photo two photos some weeks later. we had hot days and cool days and now thunderstorms in the afternoon. tomorrow night, we're having dinner at the trash man's hut. apparently he used to be a chef at some fancy city restaurant but when his father, the previous trash man, died, he had to take over the job.

'i will cook you dinner, and then i will play accordion while you look at the moon.'