Wide Awake in Wonderland

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

Old churches, new clothes August 20, 2008

I’m having a semi-surreal moment, sitting in a nice little living room in Cork, listening to some Germans try to puzzle through the instructions for Monopoly and watching Mariah Carey vamp around in a microscopic silver dress and tube socks on TV. Mariah Carey is an interesting study in rebounding. Certainly no stranger to bottoming out, she seems to be back in fine form. I’ve never necessarily been a fan of her style of music, but anyone who can shatter glass with their voice is fine by me. Anyway, she reminds me of a good quote I read recently, attributed to Mary Pickford of silent film fame, “Failure is not the falling down. Failure is the staying down.”

Anyway, realizing my own propensity to pass judgment way too quickly, allow me to note that European life – much like American – sure does seem to revolve around retail. Old churches and retail. If pressed, that is how I would summarize the last few weeks of my life: She traveled at length, encountering numerous old churches and endless opportunities to buy stuff.

Don’t get me wrong, the old me would’ve been thrilled: Buying clothes that I had nowhere to put and no time to wear and driving up the weight of my luggage into the three digit range. However along with some other reality checks, I’ve recognized that as just one further symptom of the malady of not living my life. Not that I can or would speak for anyone else, but in my case, clothes came to personify me more than i actually did. Somehow my identity got strangely wrapped up in my own exterior and what i was projecting. Beyond the paycheck, the only other thing I loved about my old job was the excuse to buy great clothes.

Not to minimize my sincere feelings for my clothes: I do love them – passionately. It’s just that when you get to the point that you could personally clothe a small nation, you maybe need to stop and reevaluate?

Anyway, without all my cute stuff, I feel a bit like a slob, and not quite like “me.” I did pick up a blazer on clearance at H&M (for warmth as much as anything, but the fact that its tailored and looks polished didn’t hurt). Walking around the last few weeks, I’m struck by how people treat you when you’re in jeans and a t-shirt and carrying a giant backpack. They treat you, quite frankly, like you’re beneath them.

It’s odd, because just a month ago I was the same person, only in a suit, and that apparently made all the difference. I remember noting the same difference at the grocery store – the difference whether i went in dressed for work or on a Saturday morning in my running clothes. We are a superficial people. Case in point, the “band” now on TV – the Pussycat Dolls. Maybe I’m not giving them enough credit? The lyrics are so bad (“When I grow up, I wanna have boobies.”) maybe they actually wrote them themselves?

Meanwhile, I’m in a super small hostel here in Cork. I’m sharing a room with a guy who is apparently living here (according to the girl that checked me in). I haven’t met him, but judging from his pile of stuff on the floor, he’s a smoker – but a smoker without loyalty. He had packs from at least eight different brands lying around. Maybe he’s doing some taste testing or market research or something? Maybe he has multiple personalities? Hopefully none of them is a serial killer…

Anyway, and more importantly, there is no Internet of any kind at this place. although I believe there’s a cafe in Cork where I can upload this. Moreover, tomorrow I’m off to Schull (at the very southern tip of Ireland), a town with a population of 700. That stated, if I fall out of contact for a couple days, rest assured that I’m writing the blog, I just can’t get online to post it. In that case, Saturday will be a bonanza of more exciting news and babbling. Yippy skippy.

p.s.

If you happen to talk to him, wish Tim a happy birthday!

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Here comes the sun August 9, 2008

What is it about sunshine that always makes me feel optimistic? I remember the first time I went to San Diego. It was Christmastime and warmish, and I was wearing shorts. And as I was walking into El Indio, I remember thinking to myself that if I lived there, I’d probably be a better person.

So, sufficed to say, it’s a sunny day in Iceland. In about half an hour, I and a group of my closest tourist friends will be taking the “Netbus” over to the Blue Lagoon, which from the pictures appears to be a giant hot spring/mud bath/natural pool thing – like Disneyworld’s River Country, but without the slides. I was feeling a little down to learn that it’s sunny and 90’s at home, and the realization that I left a fair amount of creature comforts (including a swimming pool!) behind to freeze my behind off and slum it up in Northern Europe was bumming me out. Actually, I’ve been down on myself altogether – fantasizing about return tickets home – but I’m determined to tough it out a little more than four days!

The odds that I will hunker down and write the great American (or wherever) novel go up the more I subject myself to extreme alone time (and occasional loneliness)! Plus, this little experiment wouldn’t be much of a story for the grandkids if I bailed after four days… And perhaps most importantly, I’ve done this to give myself a shot at making a career as a writer rather than a banking consultant, and although I’m arguably going about it the hard way, I still want to follow the yellow brick road and see what happens.

Meanwhile, and unrelated, somehow yesterday’s post generated an (allegedly randomly) link to a trailer for a documentary called “The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill,” which – in my opinion – looks fascinating. I watched it (trailer) twice. I particularly like the little guy grooving to the music at the end! Worth checking out if you have two minutes to spare: http://cnettv.cnet.com/9742-1_53-12299.html?id=12299&tag=sphere_mrss&clientid=sphere&part=sphere

In other news, Iceland is expensive. Goddamned expensive. A thing of yogurt clocks in at around $2.30. A beer – a SINGLE beer – at the pizza place by the guest house was almost $15.00!?!? No wonder Icelandic women have a reputation for being casual about sexual relations – you more or less have to put out after someone spends $600 buying you dinner and drinks!!!

Now don’t get me wrong, it’s a gorgeous place and all, but I’m getting antsy to move on. I was in the lobby looking at postcards and there were a few of glaciers floating in the water, and I thought to myself, “Glaciers. You seen one, you seen ’em all.” As a result, I’m starting to worry that something said to me recently is true: Nothing impresses me.This was said sweetly, mind you, even affectionately, but about six weeks ago, I distinctly remember Brad remarking that – through no intention or conceit – I remain unflappably unimpressed. True, I have subjected myself to more insanity than most people, and I have a tremendous capacity to attract extraordinary circumstances and bizarre people, but is it possible to have really been there, done that to the degree that there’s nothing left to do, see, or be!?!?

Is this the fate of the examined life? Total and complete nonchalance?