Wide Awake in Wonderland

We’re only dancing on this earth for a short while

Happy Halloween!! October 31, 2008

Although I'm a tiny bit embarassed to share this, here is your blogger as Catwoman.

Although I'm a tiny bit embarrassed to share this with you, I said I would so...here you go!

Halloween is an iconic American tradition, and I’m happy I decided to come home in time to participate. I have a Cat Woman costume that borders on obscene (and yes, those of you who appreciate me for more than my mind, I promise to post a picture) and a whole lot of enthusiasm to be back in a land where I can eavesdrop and actually understand what’s being said.

I also got home in time to vote. I won’t get into my politics – although it might make for a more popular blog in the short run – as I largely agree with anyone who suggests that it’s pretty much six of one, half-dozen of the other (meaning all candidates are largely interchangeable in the big picture). At the same time, I can’t say I’ll miss George W. If anything, my association with the man (association being that I happen to hail from the country he governs) has been the source of much antagonism and ill-will throughout Europe.

I believe in method acting.

I believe in method acting.

In particular, I recall a Greek cabbie who – without any discussion of my views whatsoever – launched into a fairly intense diatribe upon learning that I was American. The point repeated over and over was that, “After the towers fell, everyone was for America. Everyone. We were all for America. But then George Bush ruined that. He ruined America.”

I’m not suggesting that’s a coherent or well-phrased argument, but I will say that it summarizes the feelings of EVERYONE who dared to share an opinion the last three months. It’s sad to me that we have lost the respect of the greater world, and it seems a crying shame.

But enough about that. It’s Halloween, and I’m home. And tomorrow is a brand new day. And come Tuesday it’s a brand new presidency. And in the middle of all this opportunity is my brand new life. And anything is possible.

I’m off to squeeze into a poorly made shiny plastic outfit and find some good old fashioned fun. Whether or not you celebrate Halloween, I wish you a wonderful Saturday night! Take stock of what’s going RIGHT in your life, and make a toast to happiness: “May you have the hindsight to know where you’ve been, the foresight to know where you are going, and the insight to know when you have gone too far.”

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Vienna waits for you October 1, 2008

Long train rides require protein...like the leg of what was hopefully once some kind of fowl. My Slovenian isn´t great, so I´m not all that sure.

Long train rides require protein...like the leg of what was hopefully once some kind of fowl. My Slovenian isn´t great, so I´m not all that sure.

Although she doesn’t have to wait too long, as I’ll be there in time for dinner.

 

Meanwhile, I can’t remember if I told you this already, but my iPod wigged out somewhere around Ireland. Since then, I have been reduced to a crazy and highly selective mishmash of music. Of 725 songs in its memory, it chooses to play only around two dozen of them. Truthfully, I find the particular lineup mysterious. Is my iPod trying to TELL me something???

 

 

 

Anyway, I used to have playlists to avoid such juxtaposition as Patty Griffin’s heart-breaking “Top of the World” fading into the rocking guitar intro of AC/DC’s “Shook Me All Night Long”. Now such moments are common place.

 

There are artists I miss that my iPod has decided I didn’t need to be listening to anymore – Ani DiFranco, Tom Petty, Damien Rice, Kathleen Edwards, Bob Marley. Of those it will play, I am allowed only one little taste. However, it has magically preserved some of my favorite songs like Goodnight Elisabeth by the Counting Crows, Ootischenia by The Be Good Tanyas, and Pale Moon by Shannon McNally. For those small wonders, I am grateful.

Lovely Ljubljana

Lovely Ljubljana

 

At the same time, as this short list is in regular rotation, I get plenty of chances to really hear each and every word. Again and again and again. Maybe this is just the madness talking, but it’s funny to me how some of the lyrics seem really apropos to me and my life right now.

 

  • “I was wasted in the afternoon, waiting on a train.” Granted, I’m almost never wasted in the afternoon and certainly haven’t been on this solo journey, but I do wait on a lot of trains.

 

  • “Little sad with everything around me. I hit the floor and my feet kept moving. I look forward, and never backwards. I was out the door like a Roman soldier.” (Kind of like this trip)

 

  • “She had sightless eyes, telling me no lies, and knocking me out with those American thighs.” (kidding about that one – although climbing four and five flights of stairs with a giant backpack is good toning for the American thighs)

 

  • “Where are you going? Where do you go? Are you looking for answers to questions under the stars?” (This is when one of my less-aware multiple personalities tunes in and is like, “What the f**k are we doing in Slovenia?”

 

  • And from Billy Joel’s Vienna, “Slow down, you’re doing fine. You can’t be everything you want to be before your time.” and “And you know that when the truth is told, that you can get what you want or you can just get old.” (These are the kinds of things I tell myself when I get to worrying about the future or ‘should I have left my job working for the biggest dickhead in America? Except for maybe Rush Limbaugh. And Dick Cheney. And Michael Vick. And Larry Craig. And, the big kahuna, George Bush.’ I don’t worry as much as some people, because I’m easily distracted.)

 

 

On the other hand, maybe I’m getting all deep about these song lyrics because it’s all I have to drown out the sounds of all the loud talkers. Good lord, in what twisted laboratory are they breeding these people?

Outside the Ljubljana castle

Outside the Ljubljana castle

 

I can tell you for sure that there’s one in Greece. On today’s train from Ljubljana to Maribor, near the Slovenia/Austria border, there were two Greek guys (according to them) who carried on so loudly that I thought maybe it was performance art. One of the guys was named “Alexandre”. I know this because the other would open every sentence by more or less screaming this and waggling a finger at him. He also gave him the ‘evil eye’ for like three hours. I don’t know what they were discussing (it was Greek to me! Ha ha), but they seemed so furious at one another, I couldn’t really fathom why they were traveling together. Thus I figured they had to be related.

 

Meanwhile, despite the infernal ruckus (even with my 20 songs – detailed above – playing at levels certain to damage my eardrums and render me deaf long before my time), the other thing that made these two buffoons a particular spectacle was that the primary screamer was also a big eater. A big – no HUGE – eater endowed with what seemed an endless supply of pastries and Red Bull. It was like the Mary Poppins bag. He kept reaching in, and stuff kept coming out.

 

Thus, he would cram an entire croissant in his mouth and then pound his fists and scream (as much as you can with a face full of dough) at the other guy. I actually took a short video of this it was so disturbing…and yet compelling. It was definitely a moment you wish you had someone there to nudge and say, “Hey, get a load of the furious primate with half a bakery spewing out of his mouth…”

 

 

Finally, a big thank you to all my friends who so kindly and generously offered to wire me money during my Bank of America ATM non-working debit card nervous breakdown. I am relieved to report that I actually spoke to a real, live human today and (theoretically – I didn’t do a trial withdrawal) the problem is solved!!!

Unlike the Lithuanians, the Slovenians don´t want you bringing your gluttonous three-scoop icecream cones onto their public transit.

Unlike the Lithuanians, the Slovenians don´t want you bringing your gluttonous three-scoop ice cream cones onto their public transit.

However, please make a note that my birthday is less than two weeks away – October 13th – and don’t feel shy about lavishing your beloved friend on the occasion of her birth. True, she’s a little horrified about the number associated with this birthday, but such is life. Nevertheless, perhaps a little something something at the Western Union office or direct deposited into her bank account might help heal her pain? Or fund an evening drowning her pain in booze? Either way. It’s all good…

 

 

Three impossible things before bedtime August 30, 2008

On the beach in Sitges, Spain with 800 of my closest friends

On the beach in Sitges, Spain with 800 of my closest friends

Okay, so I owe a better update than this, but it’s super late, and I’ve decided to take the early train route to Lourdes, and I’ll have about a kajillion hours tomorrow to compose some lengthy thoughts for you.

That stated, let me share three key points:

1. Looking at the Sagrada Familia today, I cannot believe no one has built a casino based on this – yet – in Vegas. Better yet, Barcelona, The Casino. It would SO TOTALLY work. Gaudi’s works alone would springboard the Strip to the next level. Screw all these homages to Italy, where’s the phantasmagoria???

2. In researching Lourdes, I happened to discover that the Catholic Church is in the process of declaring the same Gaudi a saint. From this very interesting (and timely) article that popped up in the sidebar of a priest’s or nun’s or pilgrim’s Lourdes journal, “

A statue of Antonio Gaudi y Cornet in front of his Sagrada Familia Cathedral.When in 1926 God’s architect was run over by a No. 30 tram on his way to evening prayer, he was mistaken for a beggar and taken to Barcelona’s pauper hospital. His friends found him there the next day. But Antoni Gaudí refused to leave. “Here is where I belong”, he told them. He had always wanted to leave this world poor and did, two days later, aged 74, honoured by a city which universally acknowledged him to be both an artistic genius and a saint.

If it went through, he’d be the first professional anything to be made a saint. Also, note to self: Be very careful around the Barcelona trams.

3. I had this totally crazy dream last night that I was hanging out with Barack Obama and George Bush. I was egging them on to arm wrestle, and I guess Bush liked the abuse, because he came up to me afterward and was hitting on me something fierce. It was so out of line and in your face, but it was also so ridiculous and so ludicrous that I was trying to memorize every word, as I could not WAIT to tell my friends.