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fat kid that misses a lot of meals…

today has been a mixed bag of stuff…some stuff stinks…some stuff ya wanna refill of.  the silence is getting to me a bit, but it’s through this silence that i’m getting some work done.  work, both with myself, and work with my music, which i guess go hand-in-hand.

i have this weird routine of waking up at like 6am, then going back to sleep til about 8am, then going back to sleep until about 10am.  who does that?  i mean, what’s my body trying to tell me?  i’ve been feeding it enough water and nutrition…and i don’t wake up having to use the restroom.  hey body, you’ve got the things you want, gimme some sleep, maybe even just the average of those wake-up intervals.  maybe i just have some things on my mind.  restless bastard.

anyway, sarah and sean (my house hosts) have been so very kind to let me stay here.  i’ve my own bed, and i get fed amazing and healthy meals all day.  we went and saw “paul” last night.  you might wanna go ahead and miss that one.  they didn’t seem to try very hard in the story line….very predictable.  not sure if i expected more, but i def didn’t get it.  we grabbed some awesome german ice cream after and called it a night.  i did the whole sleep problem thing.  got up finally when sean told me we were going to work out.

umm…work out?  i’m no star athlete, but i def ain’t in shape either.  more like a fat kid that misses a lot of meals.  i thought i was gonna die.  these two military personnel were doing laps around me, well not literally, cause we were doing weights.  i felt like a child tho…which was probably the last time i actually worked out.  anyway, it feels nice to have taken care of my body today…maybe it’ll let me sleep tonight.

came home and sarah was already prepping the next meal.  awesome!  eet. mor. chikin….and beef.

went up to my bedroom and picked up the guitar.  and for some reason, the lyrics i’ve been looking for are now complete.  i’ve finally finished a song i’ve been working on for months.  and the odd thing is that one of the main lines is “i can’t wait to get outta here,”  but that couldn’t be farther from the truth.  maybe the fulfilled feeling i had after dinner and working out inspired me about where i’m trying to get to.  get to a better place in life. not that i don’t have it good, but just to a place where i can have it even better.  i think that’s an attainable goal…don’t you?

(sidenote) i don’t know if my heart is in the right place, but i’m going to continue to try.

sitting still

so…been in germany the past couple of days.  taking a little break from carrying my huge bag around and from spending as much cash as i can get pumped outta the atm.  some family friends, a military couple, are living here in ramstein, and they are kind enough to take me in for a while.  they have a lovely house on the german countryside.

my posts will prob take backseat to relaxing and writing music while i’m here.  but as things happen, i’ll be sure to get things down in digital ink.  i will say tho, that since i’ve been here, i’ve challenged my eating skills against a giant plate of sausage, mashed potatoes and sauerkraut, i’ve hit up a german hookah bar and slammed some absynthe with a group of u.s. pilots, and i’ve journeyed a little further into the country to see a castle.  it’s been really nice the past few days.  i think we’re gonna hit the links while i’m here as well.

just watched black swan. ugh.  i don’t feel so good.

you ever scan your memory of ppl you don’t talk to anymore and wonder if they think about you?

the lone stranger

chest very heavy this morning…i’m guessing the other night when i was out with the aussie gang on the pub crawl, i may have smoked a cigarette or 6.  gross.  thankfully there’s a couple in my room from argentina, and the girl is in med school.  because of this, she’s also a walking pharmacy and gave me some decongestants.  already starting to feel better.

waiting out my last couple of paris hours in the internet cafe.  a bit of reflection and a bit of excitement about the steps ahead.  yesterday was kinda cool.  took off on my own and went to see some catacombs.  crazy what ppl did with their dead friends and relatives in the past.  and this place is probably the weirdest place i’ve seen.  first, you walk down this tight spiral of a staircase, which seems like it’s never gonna end.  def don’t recommend this place if you’re claustrophobic.  the ceilings are a little over six ft high once you get down there.  which, for those that know me, it’s not a problem for me.  hell, i could even jump a little.  (almost said, “have a jump”….these aussies have passed along some of their lingo-jango to me).  i also don’t recommend this place to anyone who doesn’t ever wanna see thousands of human bones.  rows after rows of skulls and femurs.  and it’s in the location of an old quarry, so the lighting is very dim and the ceilings are wet and drip water in places.  a bit of a creepy place, but that wasn’t the intention.  it took a lot of work to put these bones in certain religious shapes, and i assume this is just one way to respect the dead.  anyway, i wasn’t exactly upset when the walk was over.

i also made it over to les invalides, the location of the military museum and napoleon’s tomb.  there’s a lot to see here in paris, and i’m not your standard tourist, so i snapped some shots and moved on.  many parks throughout this city…i find one and sit in the grass for a while.  and i get to thinking.

i’ve created a life for myself where eventually, time and time again,  “goodbyes” or “see ya laters” are the end result for all the relationships i make along the way. by constantly moving around or quitting/getting fired from jobs, i’m never really exposed to the way of life most people are accustomed to.  which is weird.  one, because i thought i’d always just kinda do what everyone else does (whatever that means), and two, because i don’t particularly care to be alone, and i really don’t like “goodbyes.”  but ironically, i set it up so that i am alone and say “goodbye” a lot.  the career/life path i’ve chosen doesn’t really lend itself to the loner either.  if i’m gonna be a musician of money, i’ve gotta appeal to a lot of people…can’t be alone doing that.  if i’m gonna be some sort of voice over artist for animated films or cartoons, i need other people to think i’m funny.  so, i guess there’s a struggle within over wanting to be independent vs actually being very dependent.  what does one do with that?

i guess they write, think, write some more, and possibly work it all out in their head.  but inside the head, at least my head, can be a dangerous and unforgiving place.

as i’m writing, i’m saying, “goodbye” to “jimmy.”  another lone stranger…he’s heading to normandy next to see the d-day memorial.  the aussies played a big role in the success of that battle.  maybe, hopefully, this is more of a “see ya later.”  this kid’s definitely entertaining.

where’s tonto when you need him?  maybe he’s in germany.  next stop rammstein.  du hast.

typical day in paris

yesterday was a full day.  woke up at 9am (this is early for me folks, and i’ve been doing it consistently without an alarm clock this whole trip…it’s kinda nice, actually).  had a continental breakfast with my aussie pals at the hostel.  we took off for the eiffel tower.  i had mixed feelings about paris and if i really cared to see this stack of metal.  but it’s pretty damn cool.  when we got off the metro, i couldn’t get it in my sights soon enough.

once we turn the final corner, we all just kinda stopped and stood there…in genuine awe.  not really sure what’s so fascinating, since it was really just put there as a symbol of france.  but since just before 1900, this thing has stood its ground and it’s frickin’ huge.  we went up to the top (13 euro), and i didn’t realize how much of a wuss i am.  there’s an open-air area and we are about 1000 ft off the ground.  i’m basically hugging the middle of the structure as i walk around this thing, pretending to be enjoying myself.  my parents would have utterly hated this, or gotten sick, or both.  anyway…that’s about all you do there.

we walk down thru the arc de triomph and up the avenue des champs-elysees.  and by now, we are tired of walking.  everything is beautiful, including the ppl, on this very expensive stretch of paris.  but, still tired…

8pm.  pub crawl time.  these damn aussies love to party.  but so do i, it’s a perfect match.  maybe i’ll go to aussie-land next.  ehh…not too much to talk about, don’t wanna bore you any further…just a long night of drinking.  oh, “jimmy” got us kicked out of one of the pub crawls for his activities with a girl in the bathroom.  “jimmy” hits a homerun.  winnah!!!

“jimmy”

i crept out of my dark hostel room in the wee hours of the morning yesterday and made the short but rain-soaked trek to the metro.  i made it to the saint-charles train station without a hitch (i’ve kinda been owning these metro systems out here).  and as the sun came up, marseilles proved to be a beautiful city early in the day.  i took a picture.  when i get to germany (this week) i’ll post some of the photos i’ve taken.

france, in general, is a beautiful place.  on the train ride to france, i could see why wine is such a huge deal here.  panoramic views yielded endless fields of lush green vineyards lining the countryside.  and for the best part of the morning into the early afternoon, almost all of france seems to be covered in fog.  the perfect, cool condition that helps produce some of the best wines in the world.

i finished my first book in almost 10 years (“IV”, by chuck klosterman), and there’s an odd sense of self-accomplishment that comes over me.  the kind of feeling i’m guessing i’m here to find.  but the weird, and i guess coincidental, thing is that the book leaves you feeling incomplete because klosterman leaves the story unfinished intentionally.  so…here i am feeling accomplished and incomplete.  great.  i need my frickin’ guitar.

as i pull into paris, i can already tell that this is going to be a way better experience.  the people on the train all feel the excitement as well.  we all rush off the train and rush right into a line to get out of the station.  i like the hustle and bustle already.

last night i’m grabbing dinner with my aussie roommate, phil.  we are soon joined by stu and joe, two more aussies.  then a fourth aussie, pam.  (as i’m writing this, i’m sitting in a room full of aussie girls).  then a fifth, “jimmy.”  there’s immediately a shrimp on the barbie, or as i call it, a round of beers on the table.  and the night takes off.  these kids like to drink.  and so do i.  “jimmy” is an aggressive fella that retrieves girls as fast as they scurry off.  he refers to them as foul balls and homeruns, and from what i’ve witnessed, this guy’s batting average is terrible.  but whatever, the night was fun, and the accents were hilarious, even when they were saying the most simple things.  other than what was certain to be a war between croatia and australia at the end of the night (which was solved by a beer chug-off, oddly enough…the croats were 100% sure their 300lb guzzler would take down the aussie, but “jimmy” prevailed, earning the respect of the others…the big croat then proceeded to throw up everywhere…it was a beautiful, practical end to the war), the night was a jolly time.  crikey.

cowboy hats…

…of which there are none here in marseille, france…but i might as well be wearing one.  not sure if i have had something large stuck to my face or it’s all in my head, but the people here in france tend to stare a lot.  maybe if i was smoking more cigarettes, i would be a little more lost in the crowd.  it really has been so pleasant, especially when i try to speak.  they just love it.  i barely know the basics of french, like “french fries” and “french bread.”  i actually know a little more than that, but i stumble over the easiest things because i’m afraid of sending anyone into a tiff.  hands waving in disgust, the sound of “pfft” pushing the smoke from one’s face, and complete 180 degree turn seems to be normal reactions to a person speaking broken english/french, freenglish?  even my english has gotten bad…in one day in france i sound like a person (probably american) speaking english in a foreign accent.

i guess it hasn’t helped that my hostel isn’t as socially fun as the one i stayed at in barcelona.  and it has rained all day, keeping me inside.  i should have picked up some good water-proof shoes that inject your feet with anti-depressants.  but hey, you can’t win ‘em all when you decide to go on a trip alone.

and all is not lost.  on the train here, i was able to save an anorexic, drug-addicted french girl from a complete meltdown.  not sure why she confided in me, it was either my stupid cowboy hat or the sausage dangling from my eyebrow, but she did.  she forced me to feel her heart racing thru her chest, said she was lost and that nobody would help her.  i gave her some water, calmed her down and figured out the route to wherever she was going.  she said she hadn’t slept in 5 days because she had been partying with her friends and was on a bender.  my next advice was, “maybe don’t do that.”  not sure if she understood that but she did understand, “don’t die.”  godspeed.

on the train, i also met a really nice french woman that spoke english very well.  she bought me a beer and she gave me some pointers on paris if i ever decided to go there.  and i am.  decided today to go ahead and get outta marseille and go to paris tomorrow.

in a 3 hour window of non-rain, i was able to climb the hill to the notre-dame de la garde.  the beautiful church, with a tall golden statue of notre-dame, is the highest point in marseille.  from the top you can see the entire city, and she is the guardian.  it was nice to get up on top of the city and see it from a broader perspective.

woulda been nice to see a little more of what marseille has to offer, but i must press on.  paris?  we, err, oui.

peter piper picked a pocket…

getting close to finishing reading the first book i’ve read since probably college.  i know, i know, lame.  but i was convinced by this cool canadian chick that it’s never to late to start…again.  anyway, it’s called “IV: a decade of curious people and dangerous ideas,”  by chuck klosterman.  a great, relatable read about pop culture in the first decade of the 2000′s.  in a chapter i read yesterday, he discusses how our postmodern culture has shifted from an obsession with ninjas into an obsession with pirates.  backed with coincidences, such as how the buccaneers played the raiders in the 2003 super bowl or how many pirates of the caribbean movies have recently released, and facts/related info like the whole music piracy uprising and the strong incline of actual pirate crime in our world’s oceans, he makes a valid point.  i mean, we have a national talk-like-a-pirate-day now.  it seems we may have shifted towards an ideology of when we don’t have what we want, we are willing to take it…pirate-style.

i read this yesterday when i woke up, before we headed down to the beach for the third time in barcelona (when you’ve seen all the touristy things you can stand, the beach is the best place to just BE).  six of us on our merry american and german ways, we hop on the metro like every other day.  we get to our stop and head over to change trams towards the beach, and one of the german girls stops us all and, with the look of despair, tells us her wallet and passport have been stolen.  a large purse with a latch hanging over the top of the bag, and somebody was able to get their greasy hands up and down into her bag and grab exactly what they wanted as if they had been digging for it for minutes.  this is now the third wallet that has been stolen on this trip.

the german girls head to take care of all the formalities of canceling credit cards, etc., and the rest of us continue to the beach.  we get to the beach and set up shop on the sand, with blankets, champagne and beer.  the weather, like every other day i’ve been here, is beautiful.  outta nowhere, one of the girls starts talking about “peter pan”, the new, darker version? (i haven’t seen it)  and about how one of the guys we are with needs to see “pirates of the caribbean.”  nobody knows i’ve read this part of the book yet, and i’m silently taking in what’s being said, and i can’t believe this is happening.  a pirate conversation.  and what happens next?  i sh*t you not, a small boat resembling that of a pirate ship appears out in front of us cruising through the bay.  the group vocally acknowledges the coincidence, inducing a mild laughter only a guest at a restaurant would receive from his waiter if he told him he needed to be wheeled out in a wheelchair because he ate too much.  but then, we were floored when we heard in the background an american girl’s voice, say, “hey, look at that pirate ship!”  thank you, american girl, for coming thru in the clutch.

i’m not sure what the point of this story is, but there’s a lot of pirate stuff going on out there.  keep your eyes open for it, it’s all around.  but maybe it’s a reminder that i need to start writing the cartoon i wanted to start 3 years ago, “The Misadventures of Booty Loot Treasure and Scrambled Eggzavier,”  about a domineering alcoholic pirate, his fumbling sidekick and their dog, Haruv (pronounced “hair of”, as in haruv, the dog).  or not.

sidenote: a person found the german girl’s passport and called our hostel.  i guess as a whole, we’re not all pirates, but be weary of eye patches and the guy standing next to you on the train.

last night in barcelona. next stop: marseilles, france for some good wine and food.

whiskey rebellion

i think i walked the entire city of barcelona yesterday.  which is why i don’t feel so bad taking the day off to recover.  i need some new shoes.  shoes that don’t stab the top of my foot with viciously sharp cotton (louis c.k. reference).  but that’s not the reason i need to recover.

i get back to my hostel at about 19 o’clock, which is 7pm.  take off my damn shoes and relax for a bit.  still nobody in my room, which is kinda nice at this point because i’ve smelled better.  i realize around 20 o’clock that i still haven’t bought shampoo or soap (and yes, i’ve cleaned up…when i was valencia other ppl had those items).  so i rush to the closest mercado to grab a few things.  i get to the cashier with my soap, shampoo and water, and look back to see some wheesky locked up and tell the guy i want it.  “una botella, por favor (one bottle, please).”  it’s called “whiskey DYC.”  the first spanish whiskey ever produced, back in the 60′s.  i figured i’d get back to the room, clean up, and enjoy some wheesky.

showered, i head back to my room to find a person sitting on the bed across from mine.  i tried “hello.”  that didn’t work.  “hola” did, however.  this kid probably felt really uncomfortable since i was still drenched and wrapped in a towel…but hey, i wasn’t expecting anyone.  anyway, he leaves, i’m guessing to give me a chance to put some clothes on.  he comes back and i get to use my spanish again, which i’m absolutely loving at this point.  nicolas, a recent college grad from chile.  really cool kid.  we related on many levels.  i ask him if he’d like some wheesky, and he obliged by saying “one cup,” paused, “posible two cup.”  a chilean smartass.  perfect.

we head down to the common area and pour some wheesky, but there’s no freezer to hold ice here.  one of the employees saw our plight and re-appeared moments later with a bag of frozen water cubes.  he told me i had to tell him he was the greatest in the world.  “eres el hombre mejor del mundo,” i said in a manner a kid would use when he first learned the phrase in gradeschool.  ice in the glass.  that easy.  30 minutes later, i’m pretty toasted, as i’m putting it back to say the least.  nicolas and i have learned a lot about each other at this point, since that’s all there is to do when you first meet someone.  family, sports, alcohol, chicks.  now i’ve got a full glass of “wheeskola,” he called it (whiskey and coke), and a beer from the beer machine?  one euro.  awesome.  i get the urge for a smoke, but don’t have a lighter, so i go to the reception desk to find one of the employees rolling a cigarette, so i thought.  beto, the guy who familiarized me to the hostel when i first arrived, tells me he doesn’t smoke, then tells me to follow him back down to the common area so we can get a lighter.  next thing i know, i’m having some wheesky, a cerveza, a cigarette, and beto’s “cigarette” is being passed around.  (mom, i’m an adult now, i’m ok.)

i’m a lot funnier at this point.  nicolas and i meet some fellow hostelers, two german girls who barely speak english, not much spanish, but a lot of mandarin?  how does that even happen?  we talk about stuff that i can’t remember (which they do, because they reminded me at breakfast this morning).  i should probably blog while i’m drinking.  we part ways, and nicolas and i head back to our room, only to find two chinese girls in the two other beds.  they speak fluent english, which i probably knew last night, but really found out when we all went to breakfast together.  jessie and stella.  two very nice chinese girls who will be here the rest of the time that i’m here.  they have a sweet camera.

(note to self, tour bus headphones)

nicolas left for rome about an hour ago.  i’m possibly going to meet him in amsterdam on monday.  new route.  well i don’t really have a route after barcelona, which is so effing awesome.

recovery sleep begins now.

barcelona, day one and a half…

i’m quite surprised how much spanish i still know from college.  it has definitely helped being in the service industry and working with so many hispanic employees.  the spanish here is a bit different but i’m faring well.  i say “day one and a half” because i got here yesterday, and did nothing really, but sleep.  i got to my hostel, which is actually a pretty nice place…my room is very clean and has four beds.  of which, one appeared to be slept in, but nobody else was around.  i basically have the room to myself.  not really what i was expecting, to be alone in a hostel room, but the less the merrier?  i kinda hope someone joins me at some point in the next week.  still trying to figure what’s better:  doing all of this alone or having someone around to enjoy the experience together.  and does any of that even matter?  does any of this matter?  some real existentialist shit going on in my head over the past couple of days.  but hey, i think that’s the point of this trip in the end.  what?

anyway, today, so far, i’ve walked about 15 miles throughout the city of barcelona.  i took the metro up to “parc guell.”  which is almost the highest point of the city (i thought it was till i got to the top and saw a higher point). *FAIL.  it was a beautiful park, and a lot more touristy (*FAIL) than i thought it would be.  i’m not sure what i was expecting by coming to barcelona…like i was gonna be the only one here to see stuff.  regardless, i really enjoyed being there, took a few photos and started heading south.  weaving thru the streets, i noticed it felt a lot like i was in a less populated new york.  and like everyone else, i love new york.  and the less populated part felt more my style.  the streets are very clean and the people are wonderfully nice.  it helps i know some spanish i think…i’ll just keep thinking that.  i mean, i said “cuanto cuesta? (how much)” for some sunglasses to this lady at a small tienda (shop).  she told me “seis euros.”  and that’s what i gave her.  see that?  amazing.  she then went on to tell me how wonderful the glasses looked on me, especially with my “bigote (beard),” and told me how much i need to protect my wallet because two girls recently were robbed just outside her store.  refreshing info.

so now i’ve stopped at a bar to have a cerveza.  estrella damm to be exact…very tasty.  they have wi fi and food.  it’s been a nice break, but it’s time to press on. hasta mas tarde…(until later).

valencia…hmm.

well.  i was very excited to post about this city.  it’s beautiful and the past two days brought amazing weather…perfectly sunny and a cool temp in the high 60′s, low 70′s.  it reminded me of LA.  lots of buildings, lots of different races of ppl.  spent a lot of time just walking around and seeing the place from a non-touristy point-of-view.  hung out in parks and ate at local eateries.  the food is a bit bland, but that’s comparing really only to american food, which usually has a lot of sauces and preservatives.  the good thing about the food is how fresh all the ingredients are.  being that it’s only been two days, i still need to venture a little more into the food culture, which probably means spending a little more money.  everything i ate seemed to be sandwiched between two pieces of bread.  they love bread.  a very popular item is the bocadilla, which is the typical, quick bite at all of the cafeterias.  it’s either scrambled eggs and potatoes, or some type of meat (ham, chicken, chorizo) and cheese.  but more bread than anything else.  good bread, but bread.  i’m full.

there’s a crazy, futuristic museum that seems like the heart of the city, just in how much space it takes up. spent a little time walking around there.  but the reason i was here was to experience “las fallas.”

“las fallas” is a drunken, cigarette smokin’ festival that had high hopes.  i’m still not really sure what the point of it is, but everyone was having a great time throughout the city…even the children in strollers.  everyone seems to stay up til the wee hours of the morning, which was odd.  especially considering the toxic elements involved, the craziest for the small children being the loud booming of fireworks that were seemingly tossed at your feet from who-knows-who.  anyway, the big spectacle of the event are these huge cartoon statues made out of paper mache’ that looked like scenes out of a disney movie.  some actually were, like pinocchio being put together by geppetto.   and some a little more graphic in nature.  well, tonight was supposed to be the main event where all of these statues are set afire.  not really sure why, but who cares?, it’s fire.

there were eight of us:  the streets quickly filled to capacity and as we closed in on the main statue to  get a closer look, we could feel ourselves getting bottlenecked in with nowhere to go.  with thousands of drunk ppl, this was not good.  a group of people trying to come out of a burger king, no less, started arguing with the ppl blocking the doorway.  a shoving match ensued.  and here we are being pushed and pulled, like being eight scrambled eggs between two pieces of bread in an aforementioned bocadilla.  i pushed aside the dancing sugarplums and had visions in my head of a riot or, even worse, getting trampled.  we had a cripple on crutches in our group from a fall the night before, so we were very concerned.  after a few moments of trying to stay calm, i finally started shoving ppl out of my way, yelling obscenities they surely didn’t understand, and made my way to my america-to-spain transplants.  definitely didn’t make any new friends along the way.  and wouldn’t ya know,  the place that initially started the problem would be the place that saved us.  the king.  burger king.  we escaped out the back to catch our breath and re-route.

we saw no statues on fire, continued to get bombarded with loud cracking fireworks, and there was no shortage of crazy drunks running around screaming.  then we find that two of the girls in our group had just been pick-pocketed in all the nonsense.  los criminales were able to reach into their purses, push aside all other things with significant value and snag their wallets.  pros.  gotta give it to em for being so damn good at thievery.  so that happened.

all i wanted to do was post amazing pics from this fiesta and say…”look what i saw.”  instead i’m sitting here with a little bitter taste in my mouth wishing the fireworks would stop at 4:20 in the morning.

overall, valencia is a beautiful place.  i would come back and i’d highly recommend it to anyone.  just maybe not for “las fallas.”  or if you do, stay close to the king.

next stop: barcelona.