Sunday, August 31, 2003

Hip Before Hip Was Hip

Sunburnt left knee and Shining Spot moment No. 2. Lying in a hammock on the deck of the cabin, beneath towering cedars, I blocked out the noise and listened to a CD of pre-grunge alternative rock segueing into proto-alt of the Eighties. Total happy, that album:
  1. Posies - "Going, Going, Gone"
  2. Pixies - "Here Comes Your Man"
  3. Violent Femmes - "Please Don’t Go"
  4. Sponge - "Plowed"
  5. Plimsouls - "A Million Miles Away"
  6. Crash Test Dummies - "Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead"
  7. Monaco - "What Do You Want From Me?"
  8. Gigolo Aunts - "Where I Find My Heaven"
  9. Meat Puppets - "Backwater"
  10. Replacements - "Answering Machine"
  11. Bluetones - "Marblehead Johnson"
  12. Hoodoo Guru - "What’s My Scene?"
  13. Smithereens - "Blues Before and After"
  14. Pixies - "Break My Body"
  15. Dramarama - "Everything, Everything"
  16. Material Issue - "Valerie Loves Me"
  17. English Beat - "Sooner or Later"
  18. Echo and the Bunnymen - "Killing Moon"
  19. Tommy Tutone - "Jenny"
  20. Joy Division - "Disorder"
  21. Pixies - "Monkey Gone to Heaven"
Oddly — and not at all coincidentally — most of those tracks have showed up before. Could these sensations make me feel the pleasures of a normal man?

Thursday, August 28, 2003

Jack Rabbit Lounge

Life whips past me almost subliminally. Twice today, however, it slowed down, like how movies slow down when something important happens. I can’t imagine what the significance of either of these might be or whether I can accredit any significance to them, but nonetheless:

As I was getting into the Mustang in the parking lot of Nob Hill, I distinctly heard the theme to "Halloween" playing. Thank god I wasn't babysitting the Hilton girls' aunt right now.

On the drive home, I spotted a single doe, standing almost imperceptibly in a field of brown and yellow brush. It was looking right in my direction, and my eyes locked on it longer than they should have.

Wednesday, August 27, 2003

Drew's International Superlative Scorecard

Best food: Italy
Most expensive: Switzerland
Most beautiful: France
Best thieving accordion players: Spain
Hottest women: Italy
Ugliest women: Oddly, also Italy
Over most attractive populace: England
Briefest: Austria
Most English: England
Nicest: Germany
Least friendly people: England
Most helpful: Germany
Least helpful (but gosh darn it, they try hard): Spain
Best organized: Germany
Least organized: (Tie) Italy and Spain
The Drew Seal of Bestness: England
Also, countries visited I previously knew from Street Fighter II: Spain (Vega), England (Cammy). Spain looked nothing like Vega's stage.

There's a blood that's flowing the feeling.

Here

My summer vacation in retrospect. In answer to my end-of-June cliffhangers, posed in my June 29 post, "Jolly Jeepers":

Will Drew find more thrilling action or sexy, sexy surprises in the island nation that invented crumpets, huffiness, and rotten teeth?
  • Drew found action-packed surprises, but none of them sexy, sexy. While crumpets and huffiness abounded in the United Kingdom, rotten teeth were thankfully rare.
Will he determine the source of the strange noises in the attic before he leaves?
  • Like the cause of the reddish bump on my eyelid, the source of the noise remains unidentified.
What thrilling, action-packed TV shows will Drew miss during his eventful absence?
  • Not too much, especially considering how the Brits have a show called "Lapdance Island." I missed the Cartoon Network and SNL reruns. Also, in the past few months Bravo seems to have beat out E! as the nation’s premier arbiter of televised gayness.
Will the United States, as Drew suspects, cease to exist during Drew's absence?
  • No.
Will England, as Drew suspects, be full of werewolves?
  • This has yet to be determined. I’m tentatively leaning towards "yes."
How many times will Drew be mugged?
  • Zero! Eat that, Agnes!
Will Drew make sweet British love, extending his zone of naked dirtiness to across the Atlantic?
  • He did not. Perhaps for the better? And will he get stateside loving? Soon?
Will former roommate Monique find a penny, transforming an otherwise bland summer into a financial extravaganza of fun and splendor?
  • I'd like to think she did.
And will her new roommate Marcy Farsi steal said penny?
  • Knowing her, I don't see how she couldn't have.
Will the "Extraordinary League of Gentlemen" movie suck as much cock as the trailers would indicate?
  • Mixed reviews have prompted me to check it out on DVD when it comes out.
Will Agent Cooper be trapped in the Red Room forever?
  • Sadly, yes. As will poor Josie Packard remain in the bedknob in the Great Northern hotel.
Do the British truly, as rumored, call miles "kilometers"?
  • No! They have this wacky ol' measurement system that's — get this! — entirely based on ten! Fucking retards.
And will Drew's predicted personal transformation the old country ultimately amount to only the collection of a Queen Elizabeth ventriloquist dummy?
  • And that's the big question.
Two months on the other side of the planet, on a vacation that I picked and took without anyone influencing my choice. That's got to change a guy, I'd like to think. But how? Well, what did I learn?
One: I can do what I want — not in the bratty, foot-stamping five-year-old sense, but in the mature almost-adult sense. I can make a plan, fund it, and see it come into fruition. This is something I knew before but now I know it, the litany of countries to which I traveled as solid proof.

Two: I don’t need to date. Two months without a relationship or (until just before the very end) sexual gratification and I survived, even at the expense of some genuinely attractive opportunities. Who knew? Furthermore, I demonstrated genuine fidelity for the lingering vestiges of a relationship that — for all I know — totally one-sided. It may well be worth the wait.

Three: Europe rocks as much as I thought it might.

Four: As the Meat Puppets once intoned, some things will never change. Mom and Dad are the same. People in Isla Vista, as near as their IMs can inform me, aren't doing all that much different from when I left. I fired up Animal Crossing for the first time in six months, and damned if that fucking bitch-mouse Carmen wasn’t still making the southern shores of the good village Bucket suck. Stupid Carmen.

Five: Once a month, girls make goo babies.

Six: Paradoxically, everything changes. I shouldn’t try to latch onto stuff so hard. So I have the most emotionally grinding relationship end when the focus of all that emotion transfers to UCLA. Big deal. Everyone can still totally be happy in the end. I just need that one last moment to resolve everything, conclude with one last screw, and then I can move on unburdened.

Seven: However, I can go two months with no contact and still have feelings for someone.

Eight: Furthermore, I am now a sap for relationships, whereas I wasn't before.

Nine: Mind the gap and look right, stupid.

Ten: I don’t care about a lot of people. Missed a few. Others I could care less about. Honestly, I missed Bart and Homer more than scads of actual people I met in real life.

Eleven: I shouldn't be scared. All the things that gave me cause for anxiety during my whole trip amounted to zilch.

Twelve: Rude salespeople are just jealous because we the customers are exchanging our useless currency for practical goods are services.

Thirteen: I don't look all that bad with a near-beard.

Fourteen: Not eating much + eating greasy, fattening food when I did eat + walking a lot (a lot) during the day + drinking a lot (a lot) at night = Drew losing five pounds. That's nearly a quarter stone.

Fifteen: Catholicism is the best and worst of everything, but all hail Saint Couchette.

Sixteen: I like coffee. I like tea. I like recess. That is me. Well, the second and third one, for sure.

Seventeen: I attract crazies like Moe attracts gay children.

Eighteen: It's all about Vol-san, baby.

Nineteen: For the ugliest woman in literature/mythology/history/whatever, Medusa gets around the art circuit. She's like the Sandra Bernhard of ancient Greece, only Medusa's actually envisioned quite beautifully, just with an unruly mop that puts even Marisa's to shame.

Twenty: Yes, the Boston accent really is as bad as we Californians imagine it to be.

Twenty-one: The trick to looking British in Britain: look like an American, travel by yourself, and look ever-so-slightly annoyed for no good reason.
Although the nature of this journal's entries changed over the summer from a random-insight-of-the-day thing to an actual record of each day's minutia, I'm sure I'll be glad one day that I wrote all this down, this globe-spanning ordeal of self-renovation. I'm anxious to see how different this next year of school will be given the new, significant experience under my belt. I'd like to think I'd be a little less nervous about new challenges and a little less easily flustered with inconveniences. The life-altering change? One step closer to full-on grown-up status. I did it. Way beyond crossing the street by myself, I went to the other side of the world without adult supervision and — most importantly — I survived.

I’m a big boy today.

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

Sunset Over Bird Creek

Recuperation = sleep and home-cooked food and paint and the swimming pool and the dog and Mario Golf. Waluigi rock and roll. As the red rock called Mars lurks closer to Earth for a once-in-59,609-years hi-def glimpse, the last two months sink in.

Monday, August 25, 2003

Sentimental Johnny

Goodbye, Juney spoony moon.

Saturday, August 23, 2003

Dreaming of Home, Too

Mistaken for a male prostitue. Another first: heard the song "Dreaming of You" by Coral and thought about her again.
What's up with my heart when it skips a beat?
Can't feel no pavement right under my feet

Up in my lonely room
When I'm dreaming of you
Oh what can I do
I still need you, but
I don't want you now

When I'm down and my hands are tied
I cannot reach a pen for me to draw the line
From this pain I just can't disguise
Its gonna hurt but I'll have to say goodbye

Up in my lonely room
When I'm dreaming of you
Oh what can I do
I still need you, but
I don't want you now

Ten hours, fifty-seven minutes, and forty-two seconds. Dreaming of home, too.

Channeling Frank the Rabbit

Gloucester Road. Cafe Deco. Hyde Park. Fish and chips and Guinness. Last goodbyes and I'm almost gone. Looking forward to the flight home even more now — a dirty little Miggy tells me in an email that she and Jono joined the Mile High Club on the way to Sweden. Cramped bathroom sex must be hot.

Channeling Frank the Rabbit: "Seventeen hours, eight minutes, and forty-two seconds." No falling plane engines.

Dedicated to D.A.C.K.

Somehow, I don't think it will ever be the four of us again.
Don't ask me
What you know is true
Don’t have to tell you
I love your precious heart

I was standing
You were there
Two worlds collided
And they could never tear us apart

We could live
For a thousand years
But if I hurt you
I’d make wine from your tears

I told you
That we could fly
'Cause we all have wings
But some of us don’t know why

I was standing
You were there
Two worlds collided
And they could never ever tear us apart
I'm leaving on a jet plane in twenty-four hours, one minute, and twenty-one seconds.

Friday, August 22, 2003

"I Guess I'm Alone..."

When Cate's train pulled out of Waterloo, London ended. Tomorrow's just filler and then I'm gone. I rank Cate above just about everybody else from that previous life I led in an alternate galaxy called high school, so I was glad to share my last memories of London with her: Tate Modern (again) and Richard III at the Globe (again), both experiences well-worth the déjà vu. Saw my old T.A. at the Globe, too. Steve, who I had for a Shakespeare class I took last summer. He remembered my name. Maybe he thought I was something special.

I keep thinking about Gigi and I feel bad for not having seen her when she wasn't well, even if she was a different person — skinny and confused — than the almost-grandma who babysat me sometimes a long time ago.

Two days. No regrets. No time for regrets.

Thursday, August 21, 2003

Lightning

When I called home and my mom told me she had bad news, I instantly assumed the cat had died. Far from that, my grandmother's sister Gigi died. Last Monday, meaning I’m probably the last family member to find out. I knew Gigi better than most people know their great aunts, I'd wager. Now I’ve got her funeral as soon as I get back to the states.

The fog I woke up to this morning turned into wind and the beginnings of rain. Mom said she saw some lightning amid the freak summer shower presently raining over Hollister. Somehow, that makes me feel closer to home, this ridiculous pathetic fallacy.

I think I'll appreciate seeing Cait tomorrow morning at Waterloo even more now than I would have. I'm glad she's making the trek from Essex or Sussex or whatever sexy place she's living now.

The Mushroom Kingdom and the United Kingdom

An excerpt from the second Bret Easton Ellis book I’m reading on this vacation, Glamorama:
"Shh, I'm playing," I tell her. "Yoshi's eaten four gold coins and he’s trying to find the fifth. I need to concentrate."

"Oh my god, who gives a shit," Alison sighs. "We're dealing with a fat midget who rides a dinosaur and saves his girlfriend from a pissed-off gorilla? Victor, get serious."

"It's not his girlfriend. It's Princess Toadstool. And it's not a gorilla," I stress. "It's Lemmy Koopa of the evil Koopa clan. And baby, as usual, you're missing the point."

"Please enlighten me."

"The whole point of Super Mario Bros. is that it mirrors life."

"I'm following." She checks her nails. "God knows why."

"Kill or be killed."

"Uh-huh."

"Time is running out."

"Gotcha."

"And in the end, baby, you …are …alone."

Sure, Ellis mistook Bowser Koopa for Lemmy, his weakling son, but he redeems himself in the next chapter by both mentioning Dana Ashbook and Kyle MacLachlan. I'm so owned.

London fog. Three days.

Wednesday, August 20, 2003

Parsnip Chips and Other Peculiarities

I wandered into familiar territory and ate a Waitrose lunch — kiwifruit, maple yogurt, parsnip chips, and a hummus sandwich — on the steps of Foundation House. Being alone hurt a bit. It seems like a year ago when I would have been surrounded by all those people who I suddenly miss. People would walk by I my kneejerk reaction would be to look them in the face, like they might be someone I knew. They weren't.

Wonderwall

My feet rest again on British soil.

That statement is a lie, in the strictest sense of language. An entire story of apartment building — a story, notably, inhabited by Rammstein-loving Poles — separates me from the ground. Nonetheless, I feel happy to be once again in London, a few steps closer to home and rest and sanity and cleanliness. Uncle Andy’s a great guy for letting me stay here free of charge, but oh how I loathe his apartment, the walk to which allowed me two glimpses into London’s seedy streetlife.

One: I saw what I believe to be a drug deal. I quickened my step.

Two: I was propositioned by a prostitute. "I could be yours." Oh, fuck your stretched out cunt, whore. I’m tired.

Other than that, I arrived safely at the front door of an apartment that twice now the London police have declared a crime scene.

Free internet.

n8rs81: hey everyone
n8rs81: look its really him
n8rs81: thats Drew
n8rs81: I met him once
n8rs81: no you didn't
n8rs81: thats kind of how i picture your return from Europe

Last night I stood on the Eiffel Tower and looked over a sparkling Paris. This morning I walked through the catacombs, touching skulls that once belonged to victims of the French Revolution. Quite a juxtaposition, and the perfect way to bid farewell to Paris — save the drop of catacomb water I got in my eye… I’ll probably get cholera. I finshed Alan Moore's Watchmen on the Chunnel. Good book. Great, actually. I gave it to Charlie and I wonder how it might find me again.

I remember my anthro teacher sophomore year thought it was funny how the phallic, intrusive Chunnel poked England in an area called Kent. Ha.

D.A.C.K. has now completely disbanded. Charlie split from me at Waterloo Station and took a train to meet his English uncle in Redding, Agnes’s Paris program begins tomorrow, and Kristen is somewhere in Sweden. It was the best foursome since the Beatles. I’ll miss it, even if right now I’m loving the non-socializing I’m doing. In my heart and in my car. We can't rewind we've gone too far. I plan to enjoy these last few days in London, even if every article of clothing I have is filthy. I miss pornography and sorely need a shave. I’m starting to look more like the bum who looked like me. Even though I saw only a smallish chunk of the world, I am pleased with myself. I saw the other side and I came back.
Today is gonna be the day
That they’re gonna throw it back to you
By now you should've somehow
Realised what you gotta do
I don’t believe that anybody
Feels the way I do about you now
Backbeat the word was on the street
That the fire in your heart is out
I’m sure you've heard it all before
But you never really had a doubt
I don’t believe that anybody feels
The way I do about you now

And all the roads we have to walk are winding
And all the lights that lead us there are blinding
There are many things that I would
Like to say to you
But I don’t know how

Because maybe
You’re gonna be the one that saves me
And after all
You’re my wonderwall

Four days.

Monday, August 18, 2003

Vol-San, the Sagacious Lightbulb

The French pronunciation of the letter "r" is nearly enough to keep me here, but tomorrow I'm taking the Chunnel back to London, hopefully to see Caitlyn and surely to complete the last leg of my little adventure. I like Paris a lot. Contrary to the American stereotype, the French are a warm, happy people, but I guess anybody living in such a beautiful city couldn't help but feel happy.

I went the Louvre and met the Mona Lisa (if only as briefly as a herd of cows meets the machine that rams the bolt into their heads). The French supplement the painting’s title with the parenthesized apposition "La Jocande." I don't know what that means. I saw the Arc d'Triumphe. I saw Notre Dame. I saw a poodle, whom I named Linda Cardinelli in Kristen and my game of naming dogs we meet. I saw Versailles, which I found somewhat lackluster with its browning lawns and dry fountains. I saw the Eiffel Tower sparkle at night and drank wine within its view. Our hostel, the Three Ducks, is my favorite of all the hostels so far, even if the crew that accompanies us last night reminded me of some horrible all-Canuck Abercrombie and Fitch catalogue. They made a joke about freedom fries. How timely!

Kristen has left us to spend her last week in Sweden with Jono. Kinda sucks — she was the glue, and in her absence those who do not clean their toenails now outnumber me. But we're doing fine, nonetheless. Besides, we have Vol-san, the sagacious lightbulb of Japanese origin.

No matter what my outside appearance may indicate, I'm honestly as happy as I am tired.

Bittersweetly, six days.

Sunday, August 17, 2003

What Samara Said

The countdown continues.

Friday, August 15, 2003

Saint Couchette

sooner than scheduled

and then we didn't go see the sistine chapel because we decided they wouldn't have us and besides i felt too dirty and tired and sore (and not in the good way) and charlie and i went straight for the train station to meet up with kristen and agnes in barcelona which meant a long train ride only i didn't mind and i wrote

(transcribed directly from the blank back page of Charlie's copy of William Lycon's The Philosophy of Language)

I decided Rome is a lot like a bunch of hyperactive children with no concept of foresight or planning who nonetheless build their own city... on the sun. As beautiful and grand as I found Rome, I've got no idea how these lunatics got more than two thousand years of history under their belts. Aeneas would not be proud.

During the ride from Rome to Genoa we passed a waterslide park. I contemplated saying "Fuck Agnes and Kristen and the good nation of Spain" and spending the remainder of my vacation as a slide guinea pig. Neither Charlie nor I have a clock and we are not far enough on this trip to worry about time yet — Pisa stands between us and Genoa yet. It's like timeless like a rolling casino... on the sun. By the heat I know it’s day but no real time...

The woman sitting next to me appeared to be reading some script for an Italian TV show. She was making marks here and there, so I suppose she might be somebody important. Evidence that, rather, she was crazy, like many people I have ridden public transportation beside: she had stuffed the script, a low-quality photocopy, in a Popo Gigio notebook with dozens of other papers. She did not speak a lick of English and neither did the script (I peeked). I'd like to think it was a family-oriented one-hour police drama about a recovering alcoholic cop divorcé who marries his partner, a sexy teenage witch superhero who hears prophetic messages from her talking log, then raises an eclectic assortment of international ghost children (one of whom struggles with his or her sexuality) and together they all form a rock band that travels the country, uncovering arcane governmental conspiracies regarding the existence of stop motion-animated aliens. Oh, and they have a dog named Tiger.


(and a second passage)

Everything was different after I left my shoes at the Hotel Stromboli. I did it on purpose, of course. These shoes I've had for more than a year and I still liked them, but foot odor demons possessed them long ago. Plus they had holes in their soles. Perhaps that's how the demons got in there in the first place. Their heaviness outweighed their usefulness. On a similar note, I decided against returning to the Sistine Chapel this morning. I opted to get to Genoa earlier and Charlie didn’t fight it. I'll probably regret this decision later, just like the shoes, which really weren't in such bad condition, now that I think about it. Maybe it’s the way my stomach flipped when I saw the Vatican — stunning, beautiful, damn close to perfect, but it made me feel sad. All that money donated over the years by hardworking Catholics over the years built a palace of marble and gold fancy enough to trap God inside. Glorious and gluttonous, it’s everything that’s right and wrong with Catholicism, my religion, stamped in my brain forever. And the maid at the Stromboli probably just threw my shoes away.

Next stop: Livorno. How many to Genoa? Nice? Barcelona? London? Hollister?

I’m wearing a t-shirt advertising a Joy Division album I'm not sure I've heard. As beaches blur by in my window, Italians cluster against the water like mussels on a rock, sleek and shiny. I wonder what Justin is doing. How do you say goodbye to an answering machine?


i think i thought nice was nice, even if i only saw the nice outside the train station and i think nice is where lucy is from and i thought about how great lucy is and how she's only in san luis now and i could go say hi some day if i only had here number but the train didn't board until way late at night and our car was full of backpackers desperate to get to barcelona and i swear the french punished us by not starting the air conditioning until way late and we were wet with sweat and thirsty and hungry from not eating all day but it did eventually pull out of the station and charlie and i shared our car with all these girls from california including this one named ashley who i found attractive in a rose mcgowan way and she went to the same high school in lafayette as shannon and we saw valeria again and i thought maybe valeria boded well for the rest of the journey since i felt so bad about stranding her back in interlaken and these horrible frenchwomen with sour faces like vinegar got in our car too and gave ashley and i dirty looks for talking and i don't think charlie liked ashley all that much but we had to leave anyway because we were in someone else's seats but charlie found an open, empty couchette and we crashed there and

Ah, the couchette. I think I have never have felt such a wonderful embrace as that of the leather bench-bed of that vacant couchette car. I only gained three hours sleep, but the alternative was total zombie status in Barcelona. If I ever become fantastically wealthy and build my dream mansion, I will include a couchette room, in which the couchette experience will be perfectly simulated, rocking and creaking and flashing lights passing through the edges of the window drapes and everything. No sweeter word exists in the French language before "couchette." Saint Couchette, the patroness of the travel-weary.

the ride through the spanish countryside to barcelona made me feel homesick because i thought it looked a lot like california, what with the golden hills and agriculture and all and even the people speaking spanish made me wish the train could have just kept going across the atlantic and all the way home only it didn't because that would be silly and instead it took us to the barcelona train station where we saw valeria a third time and i'm totally convinced that little ecuadorian woman is an angel because she serendipitously stopped us directly in front of the internet station where we could check our mail only the news wasn't as good as i had hoped

Excerpts from Kristen's bad news epistles, the first of which bore the subject "Big Problem":
ag and i just got to barcelona and the journey went fine, just took a while. on the metro on our way to go find a hostel, ag's money belt was stolen out of her little backpack. no cash was in it but both her passports, her american green card, her student visa for paris, her expired ATM, her eurail pass, and her social security card were in there. we went to the police station and reported it and it seems that she might need to go to paris ASAP because there is an actual canadian embassy there and here...

i saw two guys get on, one had an accordion and the other stepped between me and ag. while one was playing the accordion to distract us apparently, the other unzipped ags little back pack that she was holding in front of her and pulled the money belt out we think. ag also saw a third guy that was making eye contact with the other two that may have been involved. ag noticed it was unzipped a little when we got off and the metro was just leaving.

if you want to meet us in barcelona or paris, we'll work it out when we find out info from the embassy. but if you don't want to wait to find out or travel that far, thats ok too. i'll be emailing you asap about the next results.

mostly at charlie's urging, he and i went to paris, but not before i cursed both agnes for allowing some swarthy accordion man charm her into dancing away all her valuable documents and the six or so hours we hung out in barcelona, which passed like a kidney stone, although we did meet this cute viennese girl named mary/marie who knew more about swedish rock and david lynch than hot girls usually do and she reminded me of someone i can't quite place in my mind and she said i reminded her of thom yorke (which i kind of have trouble taking as a compliment) and also the lead singer of coldplay (which i guess i take as slightly more of a compliment) and we stayed with her until she went her own way and left us with the stereotype of the american nuclear family where the dad was in the navy and i suspect didn't like me and the mom was a dead ringer for peggy hill from king of the hill and they told us some stories about how they used to be wild before the wed and bred but i suspect their wild was on the wild side of mild

I arrived in Paris after two straight days of travailing travel and I arrived in Paris after two straight days of travailing travel and instantly wanted to escape to home by moving my flight up a few days. Upon the advice of the A, C, and K or D.A.C.K., however, I took a hot shower, brushed my teeth, exchanged the brown pants and Joy Division shirt I had been wearing for the last two days and allowed myself time to reconsider. One afternoon on the streets of Paris and I submitted to the city's allure. And now here I write.

As it should be, nine days.

Thursday, August 14, 2003

Plan B

Too much to write. A promise: the whole story once I get to London. Spain? No. France instead. Not a bad deal. Brass Monkey.

Ten days.

Monday, August 11, 2003

Paper Pants

The Vatican made us wear black paper trousers before Charlie and I could get into the pope's house. Stupid pope. I wish I hadn't given my new pants to a pretty Italian girl, because then I'd make the pope wear them when he came to my house.

What's that on the horizon? Could it be Spain after all?!

Thirteen days. American keyboard.

Sunday, August 10, 2003

excuse the lack of punctuation (stop)

the arabic keyboard i am using makes it unnecessarily difficult and i will therefore avoid contractions and improvise question marks and such (stop)

just when the heat relented and sleeping without a puddle of perspiration became possible, the church bells rang and rang and rang

sunday morning in rome

i guess i forgot how overwhelmingly catholic this city is (stop) most of the shops shut down today save the most touristy (stop) church and whatnot (stop) i have seen more nuns since charlie and i got here than i did in elementary school (stop) it is a freaking penguin party here and anyone in a habit is invited (stop) accordions too (stop) there has been a plenitude of braying squeezeboxes (stop) if i saw a nun playing an accordion i think i would jizz my pants (stop) no (stop) that is not true (stop)

chucko and i saw the spanish steps last night (stop) i think they should remove them and install the spanish escalator (stop) (insert laughs here) i saw a priest speaking with a couple in a small chapel at the top of the steps and i realized that he was giving them mass (stop) i miss mass (stop) i should go while i am here in the catholic mecca (stop) no wait (stop) maybe that is an unfit comparison (stop) we also checked out the trevi fountain (comma) which was as impressive as i imagined it would be (stop) i took pictures but i doubt it could do the structure justice (stop) beautiful (stop) the sight of it both made me thirst and want to pee (stop) i filled my water bottle from what i think was a drinking fountain (stop) no sign of cholera yet (stop) i am like ninety percent sure it was potable (stop)

we left the hotel stromboli (comma) (which i liked a lot) and went in search of a cheaper place (stop) the man at the temini sent us to a hostel called the pink floyd (stop) one might think the pink floyd was an exceptionally cool hostel (stop) it was not (stop) if the think layer of graffiti had not been indication enough that the pink floyd was perhaps not the most respectable establishment this side of the tiber, the way creepy addams family elevator clinched it (stop) plus all the guys in the rooms looked like they were strung out (stop) i think i saw too many flies buzzing around too (stop) not wanting to wake up in an ice bath with a jagged (comma) stitched wound where our kidneys had been (comma) charlie and i left making sure to not touch the walls on the ways out

yuck

we are staying at a different place in a somewhat less graffiti ridden area now (stop) however (comma) it seems it is owned by the same people (stop) i hope my stuff is still there when i get back (stop) for a people heir to so much culture and art and history (comma) you would think the romans would no how to not act all creepy (stop) i suspect the entire city of rome is waiting to rip me off (stop)

we are off to the vatican today (stop) if i see any souvenir pope hats on sale (comma) i am buying one

fourteen days (stop) two weeks (stop) a fortnight (stop) half a month (stop)

it is such a paradox (stop) fourteen days is not long enough to do everything i want to do (comma) yet i cannot believe i have to wait that long to see home again (stop)

(stop)

Saturday, August 09, 2003

Meg Ryan Breaks the Fourth Wall

Roman holiday.

I’m glad Rome is hot. That’s how I imagined it, reeking of baked asphalt. The sun is presently baking all of Europe, in fact, but it looks like I might not suffer in the Spanish heat, as the train from Milan to Barcelona is booked through August 16. Beyond that, me and Charles-in-Charge split from the girls temporarily so they could go see Barcelona early. No we have to negotiate new plans from opposite ends of Italy.

And now, in true Faulknerian style, a host of surprise guest narrators. First, a note from mom reminding me that, yes, it really is as hot as I think and, yes, Jim Vanderszwann has not also died in my absence:
Hello again Drew,

Just want to let you know that your tube with the posters has arrived and is waiting for you in your room. If you mailed the box with the clothes at the same time I guess it will be not far behind. I was listening to the news tonight and Jim Vanderszwann said it has been unusually hot in Europe this summer. Even London has been hot . . . so hot that they shut down the Millennium wheel because it was too hot inside the capsule that people were getting sick...like being in a giant terrarium for a whole hour! I am supposing you got a chance to go on the Wheel? Anyway, keep us up to date on your travels, have fun, stay safe. Love you, MOM
And that's not all:
Drew--

Okay, so I got my pictures back from London already, and — oh, man — there are some real winners of you. It's great, you amuse me even a zillion miles away. Let me know how your travels go and where they take you. I'm really jealous. Bastard. Lafayette is super boring; I can't wait to start work. Good to hear from you. . .

*Shannon

p.s. "I hope they don't procreate in there" -- Colin, in frustration about the noise level of our fellow students.

An email hilariously sent to me by Kristen — the same Kristen with whom I am travelling — updating me as to what I have done on my vacation:
hey y'all,

Leaving Interlaken today for florence. it was amazing. we got advice about a cool hike to take in the alps in this town called grindelwald or something and it was even prettier than interlaken. drew likened it to a model train town and it was so true, it was the most picturesque perfect little swiss town. and we hiked up to this glacier and it was way way pretty. and in switzerland, they're really into kids and novelty, i have decided. they're just everywhere. on the mountain we hiked, there were these toboggan rides for 4 francs. everybody comes to interlaken for the extreme sports like hang gliding and bungee jumping but those are expensive! so we took the little toboggans instead and it was awesome. the whole town is pretty expensive so the first night, we ended up eating at hooters because it was the cheapest place in town. hooters. hope you all are having a great summer.

love,
kristen
Good to know I'm having such a great time. But Kristen's right about what i said about the model train-like appearance of Switzerland. The whole countryside has, to steal the coinage of Agnes, a "manicuredness" to it that it is nearly too perfect. Italy, with its cracked sidewalks, and overgrown, weedy gardens seems more realistic.

And finally, an email titled "I am addicted" from a newly reintroduced character:
Your "online journal" is like a bad reality show. I just can't stop reading it. You have changed so much, but it's still you. Maybe it's just that I haven't seen you for so long, it's kinda like getting back to old time. Either way, I don't what I'll do once you stop writing.

- Meg
Meg Ryan goes through the fourth wall. I like guest narrators. Fifteen days.

Friday, August 08, 2003

Fire Spots

Mom was right. A headline and lede from a Reuters article I read at the Drudge Report:
Heat Wave Forecast to Roast Europe for Days to Come

LISBON (Reuters) - Europe's searing heat wave was forecast to continue into the weekend, after killing at least 36 people and fanning wildfires across the continent.
Apparently, it's not been so hot in decades — London especially. Drought, wildfire, heat stroke... Can't say I won't have to work for this summer vacation, but that explains the eerie fire spots on the hillside in Florence.

I saw Boticelli's Birth of Venus at the Uffizzi. And Medusa again, too. Agnes said she looked like Johnny Depp. The Uffizzi is full of art, most of it depicting the minutia of the life of Christ: the Annunciation, the Presentation of the Magi, the Baptism in the River Jordan, the Crucifixion, the Deposition, the Resurrection. I hate to say the stale motifs bored me, but they did. I can only praise certain artists for utilizing creative techniques while staying within the confines of the different stages. I would have loved to see the Regurgitation of Christ, the Imbibition of Christ, Sporty Christ, Posh Christ.

Fiorenze Henderson

Florence. Fiorenze. Florence. Fiorenze. Florence and/or Fiorenze. I don't know where the hell I am. Fiorenze Henderson?

The Florence train station looked like how I expected it to, like a movie. A huge slatted dome like an airplane hanger with light coming through in shafts. Spinning signs and changing lights. Loud, gesticulating people. Stray pigeons. And an instant enclosure of body moisture when we stepped off the train. I think I liked it even better than Waterloo.

I feel farther from home than I ever have in my life.

The Duomo was... cute. Like a half-assed version of St. Paul's and the color of mint chip ice cream. But the city itself is beautiful. The River Arno is also soft and green, but more pleasing and not brown and sick-looking like the Thames. We saw an statue garden outside the Uffizzi that I liked a lot. Mostly men statues. Kristen pointed out that the only female statues were either being raped or the decapitated Medusa. I thought Perseus and Medusa was the best one there — a beautiful and horrible form in green stone on a white marble pedestal adorned with grotesque human forms and skulls. Seems like I've seen Medusa a lot since I got to this side of the world.

I had some good lasagne and we met a girl from Alabama named Nicolette. I would have expected to hate the Alabama accent, but on her it was actually charming. I think I get to see some genuine Renaissance art today, a few more good shots of culture with Agnes and Charlie at the Uffizzi while Kristen's beaching because she spent a month in Florence with Hillary O last year. I saw Michelangelo's grave and Macchiavelli's and Enrico Fermi's. And also the inventor of the radio. They're all in Sante Croce, where the great men of Italy apparently spend their afterlives. Charlie correctly pointed out the oddness of Galileo's presence in the church as well, seeing as how — great as ol's Galileo was — the church condemned his theory of the heliocentric universe up until about a few years ago. Crazy Italians.

When it rained yesterday, the city changed — wet for a few hours and therefore bearable. The veranda at the hostel overlooks the entire city and we could see a wildfire burning in an irregular, red semicircle all night. I think the smoke may have helped block out the sun a bit. The hostel here is odd, but way cooler than Balmer's in Interlaken. We stay in tents that have padlocks on the zippers but can be entered just as easily by lifting up the corners and sliding right in. Next Rome and then Barcelona and then Paris on the night of the nineteenth. I might get to see Caitlyn in London before I fly home.

Something funny: with an pitiful honesty, Charlie said he's never understood why boxer briefs are called boxer briefs. Gelato rocks my face. Sixteen days.

Wednesday, August 06, 2003

The Further Adventures of D.A.C.K.

and then we left munich and the train ride to interlaken was cool even though we accidentally forgot to get a pass for austria which we ended up seeing anyway through the window after we paid extra money. interlaken is nice but kind of pokey and our hostel was like an american expatriate frat house and i liked grindelwald a lot better because we hiked part way up the alps (or actually just one alp) but not the monsterhorn which is a mountain and not an actual monster horn. fictional.

glaciers are hardy old fucks and all four of us lost our hooters virginity.

three friends we made:

this girl from the ukraine but really washington d.c. who still had an accent and we suspect wanted to bone charlie and her name was alina or irina or sandy.

this girl named valeria (malaria) who we kind of left at the train station and i kind of felt bad and i got scared when she said barcelona and nice and roma were gonna be way hot because she’s from ecuador and anyone who grew up in a country named after the equator must know what heat really is.

this guy named vaughn or von or van or something who i hated initially because he talked about aikido a lot and tried to say madison was the berkeley of the midwest but then he corrected my posture and he told kristen she tries too hard.

we decided against mystery park and teddyland, because they frighten me. teddyland declares its sovereignty next thursday.

but most importantly, i must download “tarzan boy” as soon as i get back. eighteen days.

Monday, August 04, 2003

Baby You're No Good

and then i picked up kristen at heathrow and she told me that our flight was leaving in two hours when i thought i had until the next day so we had to tube back to brixton at the last minute and i got my stuff but we missed the flight anyway and lost our money but we got new tickets on a later flight but the airport was stanstead and not heathrow and a nice cabbie who sang camptown races drove us there and kristen got to see buckingham palace and parliament and big ben and the tate modern and the eye but only from the window of the cab and we get there earlier than we thought (because we thought we were going to be late) and give the nice but slightly off cabbie and extra twenty quid because he got us there on time and he didn't charge us a hundred quid like the first cabbie said he would and the flight was okay and linda ronstadt really made it a lot better and you're no good you're no good you're no good baby you're no good and i couldn't tell if the two ladies next to me were lesbians or just really european and then munich isn't really munich but munchen which confused me a lot and we found agnes and charlie okay and it's way hot here in germany even hotter than it was in london but the germans really like running all their words into these huge compound things that are hard to read because i guess they aren't hip to the space or the comma or even the hyphen and they put and s and an s together and it looks like a beta and german people are way nice and not shitty like kaspar was and i saw a brauhaus (beer house but more like an auditorium or meeting hall than the little pubs in london) where hitler held one of his first big nazi rallies and i guess this used to be hitler's place and the glockenspiel was amazing but it was only built in like 1900 or 1985 or something like that and i realize now i suck for not having gone seen soft cell in hyde park when i had the chance and so we leave in a few hours for interlaken but it's a seven hour train ride and apparently i get to be cameron diaz if we play charlie's angels or three engels für charlie and i'm in an internet cafe and i think if there's one person i would be missing most

Saturday, August 02, 2003

Musings From the Beaten Prostitute District

I stood on the bank of the Thames on a sunny Saturday with a Guinness in one hand and an ice cream cone in the other. I couldn’t remember the last time I had an ice cream cone or the last time I’d been so happy. I watched bees, which are quite a bit bigger here in England than they are in the United States. I think Andy and Anna are nice people.

I wrote this because I might have otherwise forgotten how happy I was otherwise.

Invest a Dime

Both halves of my David Lynch pair, dark and light, left without incident. I hope they don't forget about me.
Imagine me and you
I do
I think about you day and night
It's only right
To think about the girl you love
and hold her tight
So happy together

If I should call you up
Invest a dime
And you'd say you belong to me
And ease my mind
Imagine how the world could be
So very fine
So happy together

I can't see me lovin' nobody but you
For all my life
When you're with me, baby, the skies will be blue
For all my life

Me and you
And you and me
No matter how they toss the dice
Iit had to be
The only one for me is you
And you for me
So happy together

I can't see me lovin' nobody but you
For all my life
When you're with me, baby, the skies will be blue
For all my life

So happy together
So happy together
So happy together
So how is the weather?

Two days until Germany. Twenty-two until America.