Lost American Tour


I'm Home, Haven't You Heard?

I'm adjusting.

Talking is still difficult. Either I am entirely silent or I'm blathering on like an idiot. I haven't quite figured out how to have my thoughts in my brain and my thoughts in my mouth at the same time.

The trip made me realize that I really can be an adult. That I have been an adult for a while. Doing it 2000 miles away meant the training wheels were off. That if I screwed up, I had to save myself. Even though I'd been living away from home for 4 or 5 years, it was like I always had a safety net. My parents. My roommates. My friends. In Europe, I had my credit card and a good pair of shoes.

Taking this trip wasn't laziness in action. I wasn't avoiding work. There was more going on than that. If you haven't realized that by now, I don't know why I would bother to explain it.

I expected the Apocalypse. I expected America to shimmer when I got back. Instead, nothing changed. In a way, this was the most relieving outcome. I also expected myself to change. And I really haven't. This is also reliving. My life is still on the same trajectory. The status quo is still standing.

But yeah, this is the end of the blog. My trip is over. I'm still a bit lost in life, but I'm not lost in Europe anymore.

I really could turn this into a work blog. There's so much great material that I know would be fun to write about. But I am pretty sure that I'd get fired. I have no ability to self-censor. I wish someone would write a good blog about being a programmer. I'd probably read it.

By the way, I finally got to see my pictures on my laptop. They are beautiful.


Since I've Been Gone

Damn kids. So much has happened. Let's do this chronologically. Ready, go.

I had spent the night at a B&B, the one I mentioned before with the fantastic Irish receptionist. I woke up much earlier than I expected because I am a worried traveler. I got my full Irish breakfast, which was an experience. They had normal stuff like eggs and toast and then they had 5 different types of meat and baked beans. I looked at my plate and just laughed. I tried a bit of everything, but some of the meat was frightening.

Moving on to more interesting things... I got to go through US customs in Ireland, so I didn't get the full strip search that I was expecting with quarantine for the bird flu or something. So I flew out. 8 hours on a plane. I didn't talk to the guy sitting next to me at all. He was a good-looking military guy. I just didn't feel like talking at all. Also, he was reading a book and had headphones on, which makes it easy for me to be avoidant.

I land in Chicago. Suddenly, I'm a foreigner in my own country. When I was going to Europe, I was prepared for the strange and different, so I adjusted. But I wasn't prepared for America. My belief that I look a little funny was confirmed during my layover. Two flight attendants were looking around for people on a flight to Germany. And they went out of their way to ask me if I was flying to Frankfurt.

Then I went to a Starbucks (I'd already been up for 12 hours and was looking at another 8 hours at least, so don't judge). I just wanted one of those medium size cold coffee things. I managed to find some American money. I ordered and went to pay and the price was totally different from the sign. I look at the clerk and then back to the sign. Then it dawns on me. Tax. In Europe, tax is always included in the displayed prices.

Not to mention I keep trying to stay left when walking. And there is the problem of me always saying "Cheers, thanks" after I buy something or ask a stranger a question. Ireland was the last place I visited, so I adjusted quickly. Now I'm having a problem of adjusting back.

When I got home from the airport, I was immediately escorted to my cousin's wedding reception. It was a crazy hootananny the way it is only possible in Wisconsin. Suddenly, I was thrust into the arms of my drunk and sober relatives. Everyone was hugging, it was fantastic. There were loads of people there that I didn't recognize either. And it was probably the liveliest reception ever. I hadn't been talking a whole lot the last three weeks, so my voice had started to hurt after an hour of solid talking. And I kept making jokes that the smoky bar wasn't as bad as Europe and that this was like fresh air in comparison. Then I'd get a coughing attack and have to go outside for a bit.

There's so much I've missed since I've been away. The Vice President shot a guy. The Powerball jackpot hit a new record. The Olympics. The Superbowl. Ok, nothing actually too serious.

By the way, I suspect my friends don't read international news, otherwise someone might've emailed me to check if I was ok. But I guess this was Saturday and no one really follows the news on the weekend. The day I left Dublin, there were massive protests in the city. Apparently the IRA had something to do with it. The protests had turned violent. They were only a couple of blocks from where I was staying. It was on O'Connell street. I hung out there a lot. It is a really beautiful and happening place. I was looking at the picture in the one newspaper that I could find that had more than a paragraph about it and I just kept thinking, "I was just there. Right before this happened. I took a bus down that street right before this went down."


Dublin Untitled

I know I bitch and moan a lot. A lot. So here's something more cheerful.

This is the first substantial amount of time off I've had since I was 14. All the other summers were spent working. Working at summer camps (which was fun, but still work), shoveling popcorn, busing tables, or interning. I just realized today that I haven't done any school or work in over two months. It has been fantastic. I know that my lifestyle right now isn't sustainable, barring a sugar daddy, but I've loved it. Everyday I wake up and ask myself what I want to do that day. Sometimes I write. Sometimes I just walk around and take photographs. I just go where ever the day takes me.

The B&B hotel clerk is great. He's got this really Irish accent and sometimes I feel like I've stumbled into a film because he just can't be for real. I think he must be the owner as well. No one else seems to ever be there besides the cleaning lady.

I ran into the busker that I met the last time I was in Dublin. He was in the same spot I saw him the first time. He was belting out some Johnny Cash songs, since they've come back into fashion with the movie and all. I keep seeing people around the city that I met the last time I was here. It has been a citywide Where's Waldo. I've also seen people who shouldn't be here. People who should be back in America. On second glance, it is never who I thought it was, but it made me smile anyway.

So, yeah. It was a good day.


Your Passport Has Been Revoked

Here's a good example of hostel dorm room conversation:

Melissa: My face looks fat.
Me: That doesn't sound like something you can fix in 10 minutes.
Melissa: Well, I could wear my hair different. And you're supposed to say 'Your face isn't fat.'

So not only has my passport to ovaryland been revoked. I've also lit it on fire and pissed on the ashes.

I was really going to try to go to Belfast tomorrow. And I was going to keep a secret. But now since the day trip isn't happening, I feel like I can at least share the disappointment. But I guess that means that I will shop and see films tomorrow. When I went to the office where you book these sorts of things, there was a dude in their with the receptionist. When he found out where I was from, he started flashing the westside gang sign and being like "Wisconsin... Westside..." and then he flips it upside down "Massive". I could only laugh.

I saw the Book of Kells today. What was more amazing was the Trinity College library above where they keep the Book of Kells. Imagine what the libraries look like in the Indiana Jones movies. It looked a lot like that. There was a very high arched ceiling. Massive wooden shelves. Books with bindings made of animals. Busts of old dead white guys. I could've sat there all day.

Instead, I went to the slightly disappointing Irish Museum of Modern Art. I expected some found art, single letters on canvas, and maybe some bodily fluids. You know, all that progressive stuff. Instead, it is like children's finger painting. They need to diversify their collection. Maybe I was just let down because I walked all the way to the other side of town for it. In the rain. Yeah. That sucked.

On a much brighter note, I found this tiny little cafe near the museum. There were three tables. Everyone was eating alone. I got my little lunch and sat there with all the other loners (they must've been regulars). It was cute. The old lady running the cash register was an ancient grandma. I loved her and her Irish accent. Man. She made my day.


Thank You For Making This Awkward For Me

So, a continuation on the day that sucked a lot. We drove out to this lake. Lake Anascoul. It was very pretty. We had done the Dingle Pennisula that day and saw some really beautiful scenery. My pictures will be fantastic. Anyway.

We drove out to this lake. Since the keys had been locked in the van, the four of us were cruising around in a little Ford Fiesta. A fiesta it definitely wasn't. The Australian girls were feeling very childish and at one point sprayed our tour guide with water. I normally wouldn't have cared, but I just wasn't in the mood for kid games.

So we drove out to this lake and I bolted from the car and just walked as far and as fast as I could to get away from there. I had been trapped for way too long in that tiny vehicle. So I reach this gate that I wasn't sure if I should go through. So I just sat by the gate.

I'm looking at this beautiful lake. These beautiful mountains. There are sheep baa-ing near me. It is a kodak moment. I almost feel like crying because I hated the people I was with so much at that moment. I start singing some Magnetic Fields. Fido Your Leash Is Too Long. I just kept singing the verses I knew over and over again. Apparently, I was out there quite a long time because they drove out there after me.

So my little singsong in the middle of nowhere helped settle my chi. Later that night we went out for drinks at this cocktail bar. I knew I shouldn't have gone out. I wasn't particularly liking these people at the time and how would adding a bar to the equation help anything? But I go anyway. And am a bit bored and not really feeling it. I watch the soccer game for a while. Around 10 PM I think it is safe to leave.

Then in the morning it is the most awkward situation ever. One of the Australian girls had slept with the tour guide. It was the nice good-girl seeming one. They both played off the bad girl/good girl stereotypes when it came to picking up men. I was a bit glad that he didn't go after the bad one because then the day might have totally been unbearable.

I played at oblivious because I'm good at it. The day got started an hour late and I didn't hear about it until I regularly scheduled leaving time. Whatever. I had my books. I was fine. Annoyed everyone was hungover, but fine.

Then at lunch, the guide pulls me aside and asks me if I'm having an ok time and apologizes that I got the message about the later leaving time in the morning. At first, I had no idea what this dude was going to say to me. I decide to make him squirm a bit because this has now turned into the most awkward trip ever. He didn't know that I knew about last night. So I make him wriggle like a worm on a hook a bit with the comments I make, coming close to letting him I know, but still ambiguous. Then I get bored and just say that I'm quiet and I am having an ok time (which wasn't a lie). Honestly, I could've cared less who he got his penis wet with. But seriously, learn discression, dude.

It made me realize that sometimes quiet people are just quiet. They get misread as angry. Or they get misread a nice. Quiet people are just quiet. Sometimes.


Just One Of Dem Daze


Now that we've gotten that out of the way. Last night, we stayed in the Land That The Internet Forgot (aka The Place With No ATM, aka Bumfuck, Ireland). It was actually a pretty cool and quaint little town. The bar we had dinner at was very nice and they played music that I liked. I danced around to NIN's The Hand That Feeds because I was sick of all the depressing music we had playing in the van. It was hilarious when I selected that song and some System of a Down, because the crowd was evenly divided between very very old people and people my age. It was, in a word, amazing.

Then this morning, our tour guide locked the keys in the van. Thankfully, I had my purse, so I walked down to the only service station in town to get snacks. Because I knew this problem would take a while. I stocked up on loads of food and bunkered down in the hostel lounge. I did some puzzles and passed the time talking. Then he decided to borrow a car from the hostel manager to take the girls and I down to Dingle.

It is cold in Dingle. It is another quaint little town, but this one had internet cafes... that weren't open. I could've cried at that point. I took in some really good lunch and wandered around shopping. I bought some yarn. Then on a whim, I passed the internet cafe again. I definitely would've cried if it was still closed, but it wasn't.

And now I realize that my backpack is still in the trunk of the little car we drove out here in. And I don't think our tour guide is going to remember about it. And that may suck. And the other girls are a bit pissy. And I don't know why their undies are all in a bundle. And.

And I have to poop.

Somewhere in this post I should mention that I kissed the Blarney Stone and drove around the Ring of Kerry. The Blarney Stone was not at all what I expected. I had to walk all the way up to the top of this castle on a spiral staircase that was very narrow. Then I had to lay on my back to kiss the thing. It was not what I expected at all. The Ring of Kerry was beautiful, though. Cliffs, mountains, green valleys, beaches (wtf?), sheep. We watched the sun set on the beach. It really wasn't what I expected to do in Ireland.


Having Craic

I don't know what was wrong with me yesterday. I think hanging out with those girls was doing my head in. All that estrogen in a tiny bus, christ. And the ones with boyfriends call those dudes 3 times a day and have pictures all over the place. I think I must've really sold my ovaries when I was a freshman in college. But I wouldn't be surprised if I started bleeding from my uterus. Damn women.

Anyway, our 6 day group broke off from the 3 day group, so now it is just the two Australians and me plus our fearless tour guide. And by "fearless tour guide" I mean sick Irish dude. Eh, I can find my own fun, really. I've been getting some amazing pictures. We're in Cork today, which is very pretty. I have to resist the urge to take pictures of every Georgian door I see because I think I already have 50 pictures of them. I did the whole churches and shopping thing in the couple of hours I've been here. A lot is closed, though, because it is a Sunday during the off-season.

Before I left on my trip, one of my friends said it sounded lonely going to all these places by myself. And I am surprised that it hasn't been. I can always find something to do. Even wandering town isn't too bad. Sometimes I do feel the need to share this stuff with other people, but it really doesn't feel lonely anymore. I write in my journal a lot to get thoughts out of my head. It has been a really relaxing change from school. Basically now I can follow my whims and do what I want.

In Ireland, they have this think called "craic". It is pronounced crack. It means fun or having a good time. So our guide will say something like "We'll be having some craic tonight" and it is always funny. I dunno. But speaking of crack. I was talking to one of the Australian girls and she was telling me about dating this detective. Apparently, it wasn't really working out because she was living in a "nice looking" crack house and occasionally had some "gear" on her when she went to party. I think I kept a straight face even though I wanted to be like o.0

Last night, a bunch of the girls did dinner together at a pub. The food was pretty amazing. They'd drank a lot the previous night, so they were starting the night out with water. We'd gone to the bar to get a couple of carafs of it. Later on in the meal, a waiter brought by a refill. One of the girls says, "Awe, thanks. You're so nice." And he's says, "You don't even know me. I could be a cunt." All the girls go silent as he walks away. I totally bust up laughing.

Final thing, I've been hearing songs off the Garden State soundtrack all over this country. I wish I knew why. It's starting to get annoying.


Some Girls Are Realer Than Others

I love being a passive tourist with other tourists. My pictures are going to look amazing. Our guide is fantastic and a bit hungover from last night. We had to pound on his door when he was 30 minutes late to get started this morning. I didn't go to the club last night. I sacked it in early because I need the occasional hour of me time to function in girl world.

These girls. I just don't know about them. Like, the other night one took a picture of her friend's crotch and was like "That's for your mom." So then the other girl stuck the camera down here shirt to take a picture of her cleavage and was like "That's for your mom." This whole exchange took place in the pub where we were eating dinner. Then all the other girls proceeded to do cleavage shots. Even the Australians. Somehow, I was hopping they would be immune.

I don't even know what to say about that besides relay the story.

Our guide made us a mixed tape. It was really silly listening to some songs off Green Day's Dookie while racing around the Irish countryside. He was driving at breakneck speeds. I feared for my life. Well, not really. It just reaffirmed my belief that I have to be alive right now. I definitely wore my seatbelt, though. Which is lame. Because all that stood between us and the cliff on the right-hand side of the road was a little rock wall. Yeah, the seatbelt would totally help me plummeting to an untimely demise.

So, yeah, I have this bad habit. It started in middle school. Basically, some people appear more real to me than others. It is really lame, but I still sometimes think about it. Basically, it is like certain people are in color and others are in black and white. I can never really tell who will turn out to be real or not. It isn't like the real people will be loud or funny or tell good stories or anything like that. So all my friends would generally be considered real. And I'm thinking this while on this life-or-death bus ride by the cliffs of moher. And then I start to think about all the people I've lost touch with over the years. It wasn't like it was sad or anything, I just started to wonder what they were up to. And I wonder if they think the same thing about me sometimes. And jesus I should delete this paragraph because it is really stupid.


Girl Out Of Water

Woah, so this paddywagon tour is pretty interesting. The tour guide is this hilarious Irish guy who spent time in the army and traveling the world and now is trained as an Electrical Engineer. He is the one I have the most in common with on the bus.

Because the other people are... not my people.

1. There are all females on my tour, except one dude from Germany.
2. All the girls are from the states, except two girls from Australia.
3. All the girls are 19 or 20, except the two girls from Australia.
4. All the girls go to University of Wisconsin schools (some even go to La Crosse, damn!) or Illinois schools. Way too close to home.
5. Their majors are either marketing, elementary education, psychology, or biology.
6. The girls are grouped into a group of 6, 3, and 2 that knew each other before this tour.

Seriously, I am a fish out of water here. I don't really do girls, you know? I'm a frickin Computer Engineer here. The tour guide is closer to the type of people I normally hang out with and he's a 30something Irish guy. I stick with the Australian girls a bit because they're on the 6 day version of the tour, like me, and everyone else is on the 3 day.

I do talk a little bit. I'm trying not to be a total misanthrope, which is hard when they aren't even in the same universe as my people. All the girls are friendly enough, because we're all from the Midwest and we're friendly people there. But I have so little in common with these girls. Sometimes when they're talking, I have absolutely nothing to contribute to the conversation because they're talking girl.


Last Post Of The Day, I Promise

Ok, so my last Friday here is a Rugby Friday. This means you need a Mafia connection to get a room in Dublin. Somehow, I found a room at a B&B that doesn't look half bad. But I went to half a dozen and got turned down first. I was looking at B&Bs because the hostel situation was totally ridiculous. There wasn't a bed to be had anywhere.

But this nice fellow is going to rent me this basement room for the really reasonable price of 60€ in a good part of Dublin. I could've kissed him. Except he was old. And I have a boyfriend.

Later on, I went to the ATM to get some cash for my little road trip this week. There is a girl ahead of me, so I wait. Then she leaves the machine and hauls ass down the road. I go to put my card in and realize that this girl forgot her money. I grab it and yell for her that she forgot her money. She quickly turns around and thanks me. Good times. Then the woman behind me in line says something like "Good on you. We can see your little halo." It was sort of weird because I never even considered keeping it. Like, I just don't think like that. This was someone else's money. I couldn't have even told you how much was there. And besides, I already had a lucky day finding that room in the B&B.

Ireland Now!

So, there are a couple of funny things you see when you travel. Since I don't have anyone to share them with, I am sharing them with all of you.

Going through security (the part where they x-ray your bags and sometime grope you), there were these four kids ahead of me. Maybe 15 years old, max. One of the boys gets up to the part where you have to have your stuff x-rayed. Well, he throws down his bag, takes off his coat, and proceeds to empty a small universe out of his pockets. There was so much crap in his pockets, no wonder his pants were falling down. Then, the kicker, he throws down enough condoms to last a nympho college student a month. Ok, that was definitely an exaggeration. But these kids had maybe three pubic hairs between the four of them. What the hell?

After going through the security process twice today and having to answer all the lovely questions, I feel like a criminal. I keep thinking, the next time I have to go through security, I'm just going to strip down naked and walk through because this x-ray situation is crazy. I have had some of the friskiest pat downs ever while in Deutschland. Like, I kept thinking I should've tipped the lady or something.


I have a layover in London right now. London Gatwick to be specific. This is the first time I didn't get anal probed going through customs. I think this is either the 4th or 5th time I've been through here. I feel like a total tool going through customs. I get all panicky because these people grill you so hard. I had to list every country I've been to on this trip. I think I bored the dude to death. And I was having serious issues making eye contact. Don't know why.

I almost had a heart attack leaving Berlin today. I kept waiting for my train to arrive to take me to the airport. It seemed like it was never going to come. I was about to freak the hell out, but I made a deal with myself that I'd wait for one more train, just to see.

It is so nice to hear the english language. Seriously, the hell with guys with accents who speak other languages. American men are definitely underrated. That's probably the last time in my life I'll ever say that.

There will be something better here later. I can't actually remember what I wanted to blog about.

Here's a lame story anyway:
Last night, I go into this resturant and am having a complete failure to speak german. I ask if anyone there speaks english. The woman motions to this dude she identifies as her son. I ask her son if they have any menus in english. He says no. I sit down anyway and think I can probably handle translating the menu. Then he comes by and gives me a menu. The menu is in english. I make this confused face at him, but proceed to order in German. I decided my crap German was better than his english. At the end of the meal, I tipped him at least 25%. Which is sort of a ridiculous tip in Europe, but he was trying so hard and he was nice enough about helping me out.


Berlinale In Review

No 2
From New Zealand. I wouldn't recommend that all my friends go see this movie, but it was a cute little story. It had some serious technical problems, like the slow motion looking really jerky. Anyway, the highlight was when Ruby Dee came out at the end. She seemed like kind of a cokehead. She went totally non-linear when she was talking. I was reminded of Kayne West's rant against Bush.

11 men out
From Iceland. Summary: A gay soccer movie. It was thoroughly enjoyable. 90 minutes of pretty solid indie work and it was done. I felt bad for the kid in the movie, the parents were really sucky. It was believable. You should see it sometime... maybe on rental. When I got to the theater, I couldn't remember what it was about. Then I looked around at the auidence and remembered.

I pretty much described this one two posts ago. Basically it was a collection of montages where you are supposed to feel emotion for the character. I just felt hungry. Don't bother with this film. Unless you want to see the most realistic vomiting I've ever seen in a film in my life. Most of the audience had to look away.

Dead Run
From Japan. Pretty amazing, actually. Ok, it was really fucked up and weird, but otherwise a good time. It was a nice little dark story. All the characters were done pretty well. This film had young actors again, but these ones could actually carry the story better than 4:30.

From USA. I don't want to remember this movie. It looked cheap. And terrible. They went for gay romp and got stuck in total crap. I actually walked out. That's how bad this film was. I have a huge attention span, but this film was annoying and looked like they gave beginners a camera. The director was there (which is pretty common at this film festival) and if I was him, I would've been embarassed by people paying to see this movie.

Tomorrow I go back to Ireland for Irish country side fun.

Spin Spin Sugar

Two things. The second one is much weirder.

One. Marilyn Manson is in town. How cool is that? Seriously, when I saw that in the paper, it made my little day. I wish I could've seen the teaser he was screening for the Lewis Carroll movie. Man, Lindsey Lohen and Meryl Streep have nothing on Manson. I even thought I saw that Vin Disel guy shopping for a car and didn't even bother to do a double take to check. But Marilyn Mason gets at least a paragraph in my blog. Man.

Two. I think I got shaken down on the S-Bahn today. I was riding without a ticket. It half slipped my mind and I didn't bother to go buy a ticket. I figured I do it later. I had never seen a ticket verifier... until today.

Yeah, this dude and chick came by checking tickets. I was screwed. I end up getting escorted off the train. I was thinking that I probably shouldn't have left the train, but it is day and there were loads of people around. I try to think of a plausable reason for not having a ticket.

It isn't going well. And these people are super sketchy. I ask to see badges. They show me the lamest badges I've ever seen in my life. We're talking cheapy looking printouts that look hand laminated and don't even have photos on them. I tell them that they look like subway passes. That I don't think they are who they say they are. I should've demanded to see the police. But I didn't.

Two people turned into four. They were asking for the 40 euro fine. To be paid now. I was obviously being intimidated. I pause for a second and was thinking "Fuck it, I'll pay my way out of this." They gave me a receipt (which might mean they actually were ticket inspectors), but I really didn't care. I gave them their damn money and got away as quickly as possible. I have serious doubts that they were who they said they were, but I was by myself and obviously an easy target.

At least I'm getting out of Berlin tomorrow. Man. So looking forward to an english speaking country.


Your Credit Card Can Be Used As A Floatation Device

I saw films today.

It was nice.

You may have expected more from this post. But I am bitchy and hungry and have no one to blame but myself.

The film "4:30" it total shit. Don't let anyone tell you different. Unless you like films like "Napoleon Dynamite", "Punch Drunk Love", and "Broken Flowers". But that probably means that I don't trust your judgement anyway. And you probably see films high/drunk. It suffered from Independent Film Syndrome. They also expected an 11 year old to carry the film. Big mistake.

You know, I actually don't really mind when I see a terrible film. Then I know what the good ones are like. Which I guess is sort of a Buddhíst way of looking at it.

I've got to start talking again. I'm doing this thing where when strangers talk to me, I just stare at them until they go away. Granted, they are speaking German, but I could try to be a human for 5 seconds.


The German Word For Brownie is Brownie

I miss having spell check for these posts.

Today I learned that the german word for "brownie" is "brownie". I don't know if it is actually spelled the same. Regardless, when I ordered one for dessert at lunch, I got halfway through the order and stumbled on the word. I did the pause and point. And the dude was like "brownie". It was fantastic.

Speaking of things that are fantastic, I have been talking in my sleep. There are two girls in my room who come in quite late every night. They kind of wake me up, but not fully. Just enough so I don't stay in deep sleep all night. This leads to me sleep talking. I know because I woke up fully once to them making fun of me. I do hope I said something interesting like "Let's kill these bitches" but I don't think I did.

The best german word ever is "Anprobe". It means "fitting room". Mostly, it sounds like aliens are going to have a great time with you after you enter the room.

I bought a new outfit for tomorrow. I know I made a big stink a couple of days ago about being a minimalist, but I haven't done the wash since the Netherlands. I wanted to wear something to the film festival that doesn't have blood stains, soda spills, or chocolate on it. I am such a klutz.

By the way, I now measure time in places I've been to.

I hurt. The cold makes it hard to bend my knees, but I hauled my ass all over town today. I can rest tomorrow. I have tickets to 3 films, so I can definitely rest tomorrow.

Be A Trooper

Back when Star was on this little throw-down I've been calling The Lost American Tour, we used to say this a lot: "Be a trooper."

I am not even sure why I am writing this, but back to the point. Be a trooper is a lifestyle choice on this trip. Either you tough it out or you sack it in and go home. Star and I said this to each other all the time. Granted, it may have not encouraged us to do the safest things.

So your credit card doesn't work: don't you have travelers checks?

Your knees don't do the cold and fail to bend properly: take some Tylanol and get your ass out here. We've got the Acropolis to do today.

Your shampoo exploded: Use body wash in your hair. It is all just soap, right?

You partied until 4 AM last night: Well the museum opens at 9:30. Get your ass up.

You don't eat meat: I don't know the Greek word for vegitarian, so you are just going to have to suck it up. I don't think these people do vegitarian here.

Uh, this smells funny: Do you have other clothes to wear? Put it on.

I going to go take some Tylanol. I have a walking tour today.


Nothing Consequential From Berlin

Here are the headlines from my last 48 hours.

Yosoy is a Pepsi place
I ate at this tapas bar. Well, as tapas as Berlin can be. I wasn't drinking, which is confusing at a tapas bar. But the point of the story is that they only had Pepsi products. Where am I?

How little I can live with
This trip has taught me just how little I can live with and still be happy. I have, maybe, 6 shirts, 3 pairs of pants, underwear, 5 pairs of socks, 1 pair of shoes, 1 pair of sandals, bathroom stuff, a couple of books (bought on the road), my camera, my journal, a coat, scarf, and hat, a pair of gloves, and a blanket. Everything I've had with me for the last month fits in a 21" by 14" by 7" backpack. And somehow I think I could get by with less.

Other tourists
I dislike other tourists. They touch the art and are chained to the viewfinder of their camera. I wonder who ends up watching these dreadful vacation videotapes.

Famous people
Word on the street is that George Clooney and Jim Carrey are here. Oddly enough, I care enough to share this with all of you. Not that I've seen these dudes. But I thought you'd like to know.

I'm more worried about getting lice in Europe than getting mugged. I've been living in hostels. Though they are nice hostels, they still have loads of people in them. There are never very many bathrooms. On top of all this, I haven't done laundry since the Netherlands. If I smell, no one has told me yet.

Kosher gummi bears
I was at the Jewish Museum today. They were selling kosher gummi bears at the snack bar. I got some because I was hungry, as usual. The museum was actually very interesting. But I kept getting distracted by every beautiful Jewish boy on the planet that showed up in the Museum. Why weren't you there today, Ryan? Everyone else was. Man, I can't wait for the email from my sister about that comment.

Like a zombie movie
The streets of Berlin were like 28 Days Later (Or was it 28 Days? One of them is a Sandra Bullock movie. The other has all the other zombies. I think Later is the zombie one.). It is a Sunday and it is damn cold, so I guess everyone stayed inside. This led to one very disturbing walk from the Jewish Museum to the U-Bahn station at dusk. I am glad I didn't wait until much later. I hid that I was scared by compulsively eating the kosher gummi bears still in my pocket.

Those are the headlines, kids. Until tomorrow.

The Protest Finds Me

I don't go looking for protests. I just happen to come across them. I'm serious. This happened all the time when I was studying in France.

Originally, this was going to be about my day at Museum Island.

I got out of the Peromon Museum, at least, I think that is what it was called because I am too lazy to look it up. And I see this mass of people in the distance and a lot of little carts around the masses of people. I knew what it meant: Protest Food!

This is the reason that I love protests. I love to eat. The weirder the food the better.

I don't know if it was actually a protest or a festival. The reason I think it was a protest was that a lot of people were carrying signs in the square (Ven.di), wearing red, and there were dump trucks blocking the road. Maybe it was a Public Works strike. Anyway. They were all just gathered in the square and not marching. So I didn't jump in there with them like I normally would've. I didn't want to be the lost little American girl in the mass of Germans.

Oh, I forgot to mention the chanting. There was this guy on stage. He was doing this pseudo-rap, regae sort of thing. Then there was the crowd participation portion of it.

There is nothing scarier than a mass of German people chanting along with a guy on stage. I've watched too many films. It sounded like if I went into the crowd, I wouldn't come out without experiencing prison sex. It was very primal sounding. I blame all the films I have ever seen on making me afraid of masses of chanting Germans.

I stayed to the edges of the crowd and took some pictures. Then I found a booth selling food. Ah, my favorite. They had loads of the German foods I have only read about in books. I got the currywurst. I did the whole order in German. At this point in the trip, I've learned the less I say in German while still getting the point across, the better. My accent is terrible. The currywurst wasn't bad. Kinda spicy. It didn't leave a whole lot of impression.

My professors in France warned us against eating food from street vendors, but I never listen. I have a pretty strong tummy. Afterall, I eat spaghetti-os. You know, I haven't had spaghetti-os since this summer. They sound kinda good right now.

I wonder what they were protesting?


Lack Of A Plan

So, the whole point of this trip was to fail to plan as much as possible. Unfortunately, this wasn't the brightest idea in the case of the film festival. Everything is sold out for the next couple of days. I got tickets to three films for Tuesday (No 2, 4:30, and Eleven Men Out). I will try to do the same for Wednesday, but I'm not getting my hopes up. I think there was something that I actually planned to be doing around 10 AM tomorrow, so crap on a crap cracker.

Things I miss:
My roommates. My friends. My iPod

Things I am surprised I don't miss:
My cellphone. My bed.

Yeah. My journal has seriously been working overtime lately. I've written so much since Star left me for a man in Paris. My writing has swung between terrible and fantastic with little room in between. Sometimes, there will just be random sentences firing around in my brain. Then later, everything will focus and the next couple of pages will be exactly what I wanted to say.

I realized a couple of days ago that I only write to complain or be angry or something. Which is weird, since I am actually having a good time here. I just find it difficult to write: Yeah, Alexander Platz. Good times. That shit is boring. I'd rather write about how my travelmate spilled soda on me on our last flight together. And how the male flight attendant was hot and changed my seat like I was a toddler who wet myself. And how we were total pains in the ass to him without actually meaning to be.

I am glad I bought some books in London. I just need that little bit of down time to read before I fall asleep.


I Can't Feel My Toes

Ok, so I did this Architecture walking tour that was in my Berlin book. And now I'm damn tired. I saw some of the strangest embassies ever. Like Italy is the Barbie Dream Embassy. I went into a bunch of government buildings. Saw more stuff. You know, the usual. I also walked past this park when dudes cruise for other dudes, Tiergarden. Good times. Didn't see any gay men, though.

And I may punch each and every person I see making out in the streets. It is cold and gross, get a room. Yeah, that's the jealousy talking. I haven't gotten to make out since 2005. Ok, granted, it was December 30th. But whatever. That's over a month at this point. I think I've forgotten how to do it. I may now suck at it.

Seriously, this is the shit that goes through my head when I don't have anyone to talk to. I laugh to myself a lot.

On the S-Bahn today, a girl totally mistook me for someone who knows what is going on. She asked me some question in German really fast. All I could say was "Ich verstehe nicht..." before she turn-heeled and walked away. I think I actually understood her question, but I didn't care enough without any food in my belly.

I remembered the 4th sponsor of this trip. Sprite. I've been drinking it everywhere. Until you see "Obey your thirst" in Greek, you haven't lived. I've seen it in 6 languages now, and Greek is my favorite. I think it is because of their alphabet.

funny story:

This is the stuff that you people live for.

I was on the train from the airport. I didn't know if I was on the right train, but I was mostly sure. I asked these 4 older British people if it was the S9. They seriously just ignored me and were like "meh". And went on talking in their stuffy accents about things that are much too expensive to mention.

As it turns out, these people probably couldn't tell the difference between their asshole from their elbow. Once the train hit the second stop, I knew I was on the right track. Meanwhile, the old brits are loud. Like, jet engine loud. Everyone knows they are a bit lost and a bit British.

We get to this one station and one of the dudes asks which one it is. The older lady (in the most gawd awful fur I've seen in my life) says "Ausgang". I immediately laugh because these people are just fucked. That's the word for exit. She insists a few more times that the station is "Ausgang" until one of the dudes finally checks the map and doesn't see Ausgang on the station list. By now, I'm laughing pretty hard.

I think I might've helped them out if they weren't so cunty to me in the first place. They barely managed to get off at the right stop. And there were four of them to figure it out.

Where Have You Gone?

Mike Doughty was singing in my head the entire flight here. I cannot remember the name of the song. I only remember a few lyrics. Like "Where have you gone?" I find it oddly fitting.

I left the warm loving arms of London for the snowy Berlin. The snow makes it feel just a little bit more familiar. It puts me in a good mood, actually. I didn't want it to look totally alien here. Also, it helps that the people here look like me. And if I just ignore the fact they are speaking German... ah, Deutschland. Good times.

The entire London scenester crowd followed me to Berlin. They were all on my EasyJet flight. It was only mildly annoying.

So, still on my own. It is weird when I realized that I really can go days without really talking to someone. It is nice in its own way. Like, other people do bring a lot of bullshit into my life. I don't get angry when I'm alone. So me by myself is just a happy medium. Although, sometimes, there is some weird joke I think of that I want to share with someone. And I can't.

Yesterday I had the best dinner I have eaten in months, possibly years. I was at this resturant called Pan Asia. I spent more on my dinner than I did on my hostel for the evening. Ok, that is not as bad as it sounds. The hostel is 15 euro, the meal was 17. I had miso soup, which was fantastic. They did it really well. Then I had Yaki Tori. It was marinated chicken kebab on a bed of noodles and other unidentifiable things. I am a dangerous eater. I love trying new weird stuff. And the portions were massive. I've gotten used to eating by myself. I bring my journal so I can write out my thoughts and not stare at people the whole time. Also, the german eating experience is very different from America. Thankfully, I was prepaired.

Well, there is actual stuff to do today. I might blog more tonight. Auf Weidersehen.


Walk On By

Today was a pretty decent day. The sun was out in London. For real. It was. I was crossing the Millenium Bridge and had the familiar sun on my face. It felt so normal. It felt like home.

I got my nerd on. I saw the engine room of Tower Bridge. Then I did the Science Museum, which was packed with annoying British children. But I stared at a lot of math surfaces, knots, old slide rules, difference engines, random inventions. It was a good time. It made me think about DNA, though. DNA makes me sad. Reducing someone down into the atomic level makes me sad. I am so weird.

Then shopping. I feel like one of those women with a rich husband. Nothing serious happened today. Just another chill day in London. It got up to 13 degrees, which was awesome. I opened my coat a few times. I was on Oxford Street and I passed an H&M on every block. Then I saw The Gap. And it reminded me that I think their Left Weave Jeans campaign is stupid. Someone needs to get fired for that shit.

Oh, I don't think I've mentioned who this trip is brought to you by. Well, this trip is brought to you by: The Gap - Everything I packed was from there, by accident. Baccardi Breezers - Star's fruity drink of choice. Subway - They now dominate the globe. There's another sponsor. But I've forgotten by now.

Have I mentioned that I hate how British men my age dress? Yes, it is all very stylish, but it is generic Euro-style. None of them have personal style. It's like these people take a trend and run with it. I used to be all about European men. Now, they repulse me. I've gained a new respect for how Jesse dresses. I'm excited to see a grey t-shirt and jeans.


Side Show Girl

Ok, this entry is kind of a downer. I've actually had a really good day, but this is what I want to write about. Since I don't have anyone to talk to about it in London.

So, where do I begin with the painting? Let's start with the museum. The Tate Modern. There's the London Scenester crowd. Those cool kids with their crayola hair, combat boots, plaid, designer leather. Mohawk clad girlfriends walking arm in arm. You know, that scene. I am dressed like a Gap commercial because that's all I've packed. I left the fishnets at home. Along with my girlfriend with a mohawk.

It is close to closing time, so I'm meandering around, only spending time with what interests me. Mostly sculpture. I'm feeling pretty good at this point. I'd just seen this sculpture that when I walked around it, it looked like an apple with a piece coming out of it. I was amused.

Then I go into this dimly lit room with red rectangles on the wall. Normally not my thing, but I found it oddly soothing. Then I go into another room and find all this word art, for lack of a better way of describing it.

Written on one of the books is:

Yeah, that spoke to me. Moving on. Now I'm thinking I should come back tomorrow and donate some proper time to the place. Yay!

Some of the work was quite depressing. At one point, I couldn't tell if the women in the painting were corpses or orgasming. And I wonder why so many of these works focus on death. I'd definitely settle for hopelessness. Death is so played out. I wanted to say that outloud, but didn't want to get beat up.

Anyway. I get to this room, and staring me in the face is Christian Schad's Agosta, the Pigeon-Chested Man, and Rasha, the Black Dove.

Look away.

Look away.

God damnit look away.

Fuck. I was frozen. The man in the painting was obviously suffering from funnel chest. Fantastic. I read the blurb by the work. The two models were in a side show in Germany.

My insides are now on my outside. I'm stuck in a K-hole with this painting. It is telling me I am a freak. I am a funnel chested freak. I refuse to cry in the museum. I thought I was over this. But this painting brings it all bubbling up. The doctor may have corrected most of it when I was in 7th grade, but it never feels like it.

There are all these London hip kids at the museum. They all look the part of that crowd. Weird hair, weird dress, weird smells, weird piercings. But I didn't have to do anything to be a freak. My chest bones were deformed. They can dye and pierce themselves all they want, but until their bones are deformed, I win. I'm the side show girl.

Exactly 4 people have ever seen my chest. Teresa and I had this conversation about the boys we'd dated/made-out with and all that. She said she felt slutty compared to me. I tried to explain to her that I don't really do flings the way she does. The chest thing kind of gets in the way. Who wants a stranger telling them they are a freak? But she didn't get it and went on this "woah is me, I am a slut" pity trip. I have deformed bones, so I win. Every time.

Talk about your pity trips.

I hate that a simple trip to the museum dredged up all these feelings. I didn't want to remember what it felt like when I was a kid. Knowing that I could not change the one thing that condemned me to be a freak-girl. Knowing that I'll never be normal. I can dress like a Gap commercial, wear the mask that grins and lies, but I will never be normal.

I was seconds from being a total wreck in the museum. I heard the footsteps of a couple approaching where I was standing. I darted away as fast as I could. I didn't want to hear what they'd say about the Pigeon Chested Man. I couldn't take it.

On Yer Own!

So, today was amazing. Mostly because it wasn't terrible. I woke up ass early and waited around for the tube tickets to get cheaper (and nothing I wanted to do opened until 9:30 AM).

I spent the morning at the British National Gallery. It was nice to set my own pace. There were loads of school groups there, so I actually learned stuff. Like, Dutch painters have a thing for cows. Actually, some of the works there were quiet moving... and by moving, I mean lonely looking. They had loads of the Venitian painters I saw in Venice. So it was a nice transition into London.

Then I went and got cheap tickets to The Producers. Followed by a lunch by myself. I started to notice all the other people eating by themselves and wondered why they were alone.

After that, I went to the Tower of London. I caught the amazing free guided tour... after I paid the £11 admission, bitches. It was worth it though. I got to see the royal bling and be a tourist with the other tourists.

Then it was onward to the British Library. They had religious texts of every religion I could think of. And they had loads of old music and novels. The books on desplay were very beautiful. I love books, though, so I am probably biased. They didn't have the Magna Carta out, which made me a bit sad, but oh well. They also had this interesting section on Nobel Prize winners.

Then I did a fast food dinner where a homeless person asked me for money. I froze. He repeated himself. I started to answer in German. All the words just flowed out. I don't know why I reacted that way. I just panicked. It was ugly. I felt terrible afterwards.

I finally bought some shampoo. Yeah, you needed to know that.

Then I saw The Producers. It wasn't bad. Which brings us to now, where I blog.

Ok, here's a funny story (well, I think it is funny):
The other day, I was talking to another girl in my room. I was telling her about Venice and how PETA obviously doesn't compaign there. Then she started to tell me how she signed this animal rights petition and the protester looked at her funny. Apparently she was wearing a sheepskin hat.

Then, word for word, she asks, "Is sheepskin made from sheep? Like, do they have to die?"

Umm, I hope so. It would be really disturbing if the sheep didn't die first. So I told her yeah. And she thought that since people ate lamb that it was ok. I pretended I agreed with her. Because it was easier than falling down that rabbit hole.


Venice Lost

I cannot believe that blogger lost my Venice post from two days ago. Screw you, blogger. Screw you in your face sideways.

Basically I talked about how Star and I did a Gondola ride. And it was like a shagging wagon. We decided that Pimp My Gondola is the next big reality show.

Then I talked about our B&B. We checked in late at night and were ushered to a sitting room that looked like a religious 70 year old Italian woman decorated it. Then we were taken to a back alley where we were shown to the Hobbit Hole. In the Hobbit Hole, was a nice private room with a kitchen and a bathroom. The clerk waited until then to tell us that the dorms were all filled up, but we were paying the same price for that really nice room.

Then I talked about how I was spending loads of money in Venice. I ate some pizza on the Rialto bridge along the grand canal. I met some girls from Minnesota (WTF). We hung out in St. Mark's square a lot. We got lost a billion times (because that is what makes Venice so fun).

Also, there was this one time we were going to our Hobbit Hole where some dudes from 3 stories above us dumped water out the window, which caused me to scream because it startled me. Then we tried to get into our room for the first time without the clerk and couldn't open the door. I lost my shit because I hadn't eaten in a while. But then we got me food and I was ok.

I think I also said something about how to keep me happy on a trip. Mostly, if I get pissed off, just throw food at me. It settles me down every time. Also, it helps if we aren't lost.

Stupid stupid blogger. Or maybe it was the dodgy internet in Italy. Whatever. It was probably Ken's fault for saying that I should look up Kiddy Porn while at an internet cafe in Vatican City. Yup, blaming you, Ken.

London, Still

Two Old Stories from Athens:
1: In Greek, "I'm sorry" and "excuse me" have about 5 syllables. So I could never remember them. One time on the metro, it was really crowded. We were shoved towards the back standing up. When we came to our stop, no one moved to make way at the door. So I slowly made my way around people. When I got near the door, there was this dude with his arm extended to the hand hold, blocking about 3/4 of the door in the process. The buzzer sounded and I totally panicked that we weren't going to miss our stop. So I sort of shoved him out of the way. Off the train. Oops. Star and I hurry away and he jumps back on the train. Well, I guess I learned something that semester I studied in Cergy ("In France, we push.").

2: When we were in Athens, there was this guy at the hostel, Chris, who decided to play the world's saddest birthday song for Star. He played this song by The Waves. I think it was called "London, Still".

Anyway, it has been stuck in my head since I got here. I'm trying to replace it with Southern Bells by The Faint, but without my iPod, this task if futile.

So yeah, I'm chilling in London for a few days before the Berlin Film Festival. I failed to make a decision about Prague, so time made the decision for me. Star went to Paris to meet up with a friend, so now I'm really on my own. It is actually kind of amazing. Like, I only have to worry about myself. It makes things a bit easier. I mean, sometime soon I might miss talking to people, but I've actually talked to a fair amount of people in the hostel since I've gotten here.

Leaving Venice. Such a weird city. Words cannot express. The boat bus taking us out of the city crashed into the dock and almost knocked me down in the process. It is a given that the boats will ram the docks a little bit.

Venice is what I think of when I think of Europe. Tall buildings froma mix of periods. Old women in furs walking arm in arm. Streets that aren't on the map. Churches everywhere. In an old city like Venice, it is hard not to believe in God. A million artists dedicated their lives to religious paintings, sculptures, and frescos. Ok, maybe that art is what paid the bills, but they still created it, you know?

It was a sunny every day we were there. I still always wore my coat, but I think I may have gotten a little tan on my face.

This morning, I asked the all important question of "Where does the dog poop go?" There are a fair amount of dogs, but I never saw any poop.

The color of the water is so uniue. I've never seen this cloudy aqua color anywhere else. I don't know why it is like that. With all the boats and people, I have to wonder why it isn't brown.

Also, I spelled ciao wrong in my last post. Fantastic. This post should be full of errors as well since I cannot run the spell checker on this computer.


Rain Out

Bored now.
The rain turns up the suck.
Faking fun.
Not sure where to go next.
No emails from friends.
Can't write anything worth writing.
This is a pointless exercise in typing.
More bad dreams.
Spending money to spend money.
Stopped talking shit. Stopped talking.

That makes me sound way more dark than I actually am. But the rain really kills a day. I hate hanging out at the hostel, even if these are the best people we have ever run into. Yeah, the hostel is amazing, but I did not fly to Greece for the hostel. At least we managed to do most of the major stuff. And eat weird food. Oh, and that dish I had the other day was called Moussaka. I think I got the spelling close.

I gave away my copy of Ender's Game. A girl at the hostel looked like she needed it more than me. I've already read it twice on this trip. I'll just buy another copy when I get to the States. I refrained from telling her it is sci-fi, because you know how girls normally get about that stuff. Besides, it is an amazing book. Pretty much if you like to read, you'll like the book.

Anyway, this girl and her travelmate sort of reminded me of Star and me. One is the partier, one would rather sack it in early so she wouldn't burn the daylight the next day sleeping.

Onward and outward to Venice. Word on the street: there is a cafe on the island that does free internet.



the blog is a bit broken right now. there is something wrong with the time stamping. like, you may have missed this entry. so you may want to occasionally be scrolling down to check entries. or not. really, whatever. if you are into vicarious eurotripping.

we did the major sights in Athens today. now it is raining, so we cannot go on this hike to the top of some hill for a gorgeous view of the city. instead, it is light shopping and chilling with some girls.

ok, something i do not understand: internet dating. apparently, when you reach a certain age, it is quite common. i just think it is weird. like Harrison Bergeron weird. if you want to meet someone, meet them. if you want to talk to someone, talk. i did not want to comment when the girls were talking about it.

also, every dude i meet on this trip seems to be a professional photographer. or, you know, a really annoying amateur. they all talk about photo composition and contrast and all that. i just get a bit sick of the talk. i like photography, but i just do not want to hear the analysis of it every time people swap photos.

also, i have to stop talking so much shit. i said something the other day that my editor really should have caught. some girl here was telling a story about the models on the top floor driving her out of her room because the bathroom was Models Only.

i blurt out: what are models doing staying in a hostel. i think by Models, they mean sex worker.

then everyone dies laughing and one of the people closes the door to the room we are in. seriously, if my legs turn up broken in the next 24 hours, blame the models on the top floor.