Monday, July 2, 2007

after antwerp, we drove to amsterdam to stay at the apartment of a vacationing friend of theirs named john. he lives above the healthfood store where he and gijs work. this store sells vegan smoked gouda. holy shit. it is made by the same brand that makes the mozzarella used by the vegan pizza pace in budapest which im told has the best vegan cheese pizza in the world. i dont think ill have a chance to check it out this time around, so i guess ill just have to come back to europe some time.
on friday, the show was in east germany and we didnt feel like making the drive, so we hung out in amsterdam. we ate maoz falafel, which is extremely mediocre, and i had hot chocolate which was fantastic. it rained on and off all day and was probably in the high 50s. apparently summer has not yet hit northern europe. right before it started to rain hard, we saw a belligerently drunk street magician. in the 45 minutes that we watched him try to draw a crowd large enough to actually start his show, we saw him do one coin trick (his french drop wasnt bad and drunkenness did not seem to impair his sleight of hand abilities), one cigarette trick, light a torch and then leave it on the ground until it burned out, try to light it again later and fail, spin a bullship around his head for a total of maybe 10 minutes (stumbling occasionally), and try to crack it twice successfully and once unsuccessfully. he spent most of the in between time muttering to himself, telling the same jokes over and over (to two guys walking together: "so when did you two get back together"), telling people to come up to the edge of his "stage" or fuck off, and calling random walkers-by "homos" and "dickheads". he eventually gave up, packed up his box, and went with a friend to get dinner at the marriot, without ever starting his routine. we were all laughing nonstop, and mike raio and i were particularly amused. it might have been the funniest thing ive ever seen, although im sure my retelling of it is unconvincing.
friday was randy's birthday, so once gijs got off work, we all ("we" at this point including 4 americans, one roman, one brazillian, two austrians, and gijs and his partner satina from holland) had dinner at a chain japanese place called wagamamas. it was the best meal id had in weeks, and i was so hungry that i ate one and a half entrees, two appetizers, and a bowl of rice, for a grand total of 20€. it wasnt cheap, but it was worth it.
randy, mike, and kelly were fixated on going clubbing, kelly reminding me that i promised her that some day i would and randy pulling the youll-ruin-my-birthday-if-you-dont card. i relented but when we got back to the van and discovered that it wouldnt start, i was relieved to be off the hook. we walked back 3 miles or so to john's and went to bed.
the next morning, some of us took a cab back to the van to meet the dutch equivalent of AAA, which satina had called pretending to be john's girlfriend (who was on vacation with him). in holland, they try to actually fix your car instead of just towing it, which is nice. the guy took a look and determined that it was the starter, so we got all set to push while he pulled with his little mini-minivan so that gijs could pop the clutch once we got up to speed. it worked, but in the process mike got his arm slammed in the door, and then it stalled. the repair guy called reinforcements, and this guy that i call the all-purpose dutchman showed up on a motorcycle (wearing fully terminator-esque futuristic motorcycle gear). he hit the starter with a pipe and make the van turn on, and then looked at mike raios arm and pronounced it broken. we were in awe, and i was temped to ask if he could help me with applied differential calculus or my plumbing, since i was convinced that he was the guy to call for just about anything. 4 hours of mike sitting in a hospital later, it turned out that he was wrong and mike's arm wasnt broken.

that brings me to saturday late afternoon, and i think ill pause here to reflect on some things that ive been thinking about since i got back.
first of all, i think that, as is the case with so many things, balance is important when it comes to addressing the issues that i was talking about before, RE: making connections with civilians/muggles/rando comandos (for the last term i credit katy otto). im often afraid of culturally ghetto-izing myself by spending too much time around people that i agree with. i dont like to take for granted that im right about everything or spend too much time nerding out about the handful of subjects that interest my peers, but too long away from people like that and i get very lonely. this weekend was good, and now im ready to spend the next two weeks around people that have no idea what "queer" means, why anyone would choose not to drink, or that there might be (notice my use of the word "might" as a hedge; im not trying to say that i know the right answers either) fatal problems with capitalism, patriarchy, industrial civilization, or what have you. some day, maybe ill commit fully to radical ideologies and the lifestyles they entail, get a throat tattoo (i really want one but am clearly not, at this point, ready to commit to looking like a weirdo to 99% of people, including potential employers/girlfriends, and bumming out my mom), and embrace the fact that i really only belong with a small group of people, or, on the other hand, nihilism could win out, and i might find myself living a comfortable materialistic life, eating brie, and reminiscing about my "anarchist vegan straightedge phase". right now, im stuck in between commitment and doubt, so ill keep trying to find the right balance to maintain my sanity (which sometimes feels like a much more pressing concern than figuring out The Answer anyway).

on that note, i had a really long conversation with kelly about the need for connection. some people can be not only happy but even productive on their own, while some dont have the temperament for solitude. i chose to come to madrid partially because i wanted to force solitude upon myself, without the distractions of television or the internet (at least, not at home), so i could catch up on my reading and learn to sink or swim - emotionally - on my own. sometimes i think im too dependent on my friends to feel ok, and sometimes i think that they arent even really enough, but maybe just enough to not totally lose it. i need to either find whatever it is that feels like its missing, or learn to accept that it doesnt exist and figure out how to go from there. so far, it hasnt worked, but talking to kelly gave me a lot to think about in terms of what friends can offer, the need for intimate contact ("intimate" not to be conflated with "sexual"), and a whole slew of related subjects. ill probably be thinking about some of this stuff for weeks.

gmap pedometer of my trip

the points are just the cities where i stopped, not the actual locations within the cities. i also skipped utrecht, NL, where i transferred trains en route from arnhem to eindhoven.

No comments: