Monday, July 31, 2006

Ask and you shall receive. This one is going out to the kid who e-mailed me asking what the hell I did in Europe for nearly 9 weeks. Enjoy.

I couldn't quite tell if her face was curling into a knowing smile or whether it was merely a courtesy . We've all been told that there are certain moments that come to define our lives, that define who we are and what we stand for. I was fairly certain that thus far in the trip, I hadn't had a single one of those.

No, we were in Krakow, surrounded by a group of Hungarian girls who had met and bonded in their American studies class. I don't know if to them we were jokes or experts or oddities but the ones who understood my dumbed-down version of english were giving me flity looks and asking for stories from nearly 7 weeks of travels.

My boat from Algeciras in Spain to Tangier in Morocco had been cancelled de to weather, I explained, and arriving at 11:30 instead of 7 p.m. made the rough-and-tumble port city full of unfamiliar faces all the more intimidating. I jumped out of bed at 4 a.m. when the Muslim prayers rung out of the speakers bolted to the mosque towers and out across the city's rooftops. It only took half a day to lose my pocket-sized travel guide to Morocco somewhere on the streets and to realize I needed to get out of Tangier. Marrakesh. Yes. I would go south on the night train to Marrakesh.

The train station was busy and only accepted cash, and as I found my way to an ATM, I noticed someone watching me. I took a step back, The station was relatively safe but I was traveling alone and I've heard night train horror stories that ran the gamut from missing luggage to being gassed while you sleep.

The shifty figure approached me and was the only the second person in two days to address me in my native tongue. "excuse me, are you from the States?"

Yes, I replied to the as I surveyed the man's wrinkles and guessed that they were 40 odd years worth of accumulation.

"Have you ever been to Seattle?"


Oh wonderful! I lived there for many years. I met an american in France, there was a lot of passion and the next thing you know, there I was, married to her and living in her house near the city. My name is Charif."

I'd heard that once you leave the large Cities of morocco, people are hospitable and friendly but to be careful on the cities. No one wants to be your friend for free. Though there was something in Charif's eyes I didn't wholly trust, I was still thankful to find someone who could fill the enormous gaps in the next six days of my trip that were completely empty after loosing the travel book.

Charif told me his town, Asilah, was a beautiful place on the coast between Tangier and Marrakesh and that I could stop with him for a few hours to explore if I wished.

Why not give a few hours to see something new? I thought. So off we went, bound for Asilah first, Marrakesh second. I had no idea what lay ahead but so long as it was different than the desuetude poverty and leering eyes of Tarifa, I knew I would be moving in the right direction. The water off Asilah was clear blue as we exited the train station where Charif bought a single Marlboro off a vendor manning a street cart. That's when I realized that I was completely at his mercy. I hoped that the rumors of Moroccan hospitality were true and that I would find my way back to the train station before the next morning arrived.

Two of the Hungarian girls leaned in closer. Maybe the story was getting better. Maybe the bartender had turned up the music. Their eyes brightened. The girl who hadn't payed enough attention in English class jabbed her straw into her drink with an absent look. A fourth flirted with my friend. It was week seven and already memories from week 1 had started to fade.

Tomorrow: Asilah and wherever I ended up next.

Friday, July 28, 2006

The ruse this week is that I'm painting an apartment in hopes to sell it. The reality is all sorts of commando activities.

I am sneaking off to motorcycle shops and planning my future superbike racing career on the track.

I am taking applications for a new crew capable at rolling at my level to quickly but deftly fill the social schedule.

I am scouring the internet for a new blogging crew to fill the blogroll, all of whom have to keep things rolling like back in the days of 2K4.

I am investigating just how much it would take to get me off the ground and into an apartment in a coastal city.

I am rolling up my sleeves and getting down and dirty in local politics before the first Tuesday of November rolls around.

I am catching up on the third and most captivating season of the far and away best show on television: Rescue Me.

I am thinking about having an emotion.

I am worrying that one emotion always leads to all the rest of them.

Hang on, I feel one coming.
No wait.
Scratch all of that.
It was just paint fumes.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

I've been living in a time warp. Blogs the way I remember them are dead. Two years ago it was new enough that people had so many fresh ideas to throw around. And no one was sick of listening to eachother and to themselves quite yet. Almost all the bloggers who I read when this thing started are gone. Lost in the rest of their lives and that's fine. The magic of life two years ago was something special. And maybe tonight, if I close my eyes tight enough I can walk backwards for just a few seconds.

"Meaning isn't something people like us fall into," she said, abandoning her smile to assure me she was serious. "We're going to have to create it for ourselves." She looked to the stars up in the night sky and I knew that she wasn't searching for something bigger looking down on us. Where I saw salvation and hope she could only find a big empty space but I never held it against her. The day blown by so fast that I half-expected the stars move double-time across the sky.

"Stop thinking so hard, you're making me tired."

It's not my fault. I'm just minding my own business and these big things just creep up on me and jump in my head when I'm not looking.

"Don't act like you're all lost," she said, but I knew she loved the uncertainty of it all. The rush of any fight that might come our way.

I told her I wasn't lost, I was distracted. And I was. And I am. And I might always be.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The view of the street from here is clear and unobscured. The window pales in comparison to the internet and the television screen. There are so many people out there who dream about two stories and so many feet measured by squares and little window looking out into a cul-de-sac of two-car garages. But I'll bet they don't dream of the suburbs and it's fortresses of solitude.

There are places in this word where you don't just know your neighbor by their face as they saunter down to the mailbox from the front door and back again. Places where people know their neighborhood and their neighbor's business and they're better for it. There it's about necessity. There aren't gates with garage door openers and paid police cars and fireman waiting to slide down the pole when that red light starts flashing. You invite the neighbors over because when shit goes down you want them on your side, carrying your shit out of a burning building, watching the kids and cotterizing your stump after you've chopped off a finger.

But we build bigger and bigger castles, safe and protected with everything that's built to make it safe to live inside. Then we all sit back and wonder. Wonder why kids go looking for guns, girls stick their fingers down their throats, fathers surf for porn and bottles of pills keep flying off the shelves. The window's view of the street is unobscured. But it's looking the other way that I'm worried about.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Money where the mouth is

Two years ago there was someone named G2K, there was nothing sweeter than a late night phone call and all my dreams of being a bigger and a better man didn't have to be anything but dreams just yet. This blog started just like those dreams not long before that. Almost everyone who hit the blogosphere with me around then is gone or working under a new name. Times change.

And this, as they say, is go time. Current offers on the table in the order of highest to lowest salary are:
Furniture salesman
Waiter at a fancy restaurant
Reporter for a trashy but rich magazine
Writer for a politically motivated internet site
Campaign Manager for a local guy going for state legislature

Current offers in order of appeal:
Campaign Manager for a local guy going for state legislature
Writer for a politically motivated internet site
Reporter for a trashy but rich magazine
Waiter at a fancy restaurant
Furniture salesman

Funny the way these little things work out isn't it? New York and LA are still very much on the table. G2K still calls me on the phone. The snow globe still sits on the corner of my desk. I brush the dust off it every once in a while and watch the plastic snowflakes fall across the shiny Empire State Building. Remember TMG? Now she's in LA wondering when I'm going to accept my fate, pack my car and roll west. Lindsey and I don' t talk anymore. The rest of the cast: Most have surrendered to the tired 9-5's. As for Tayden, he's living vicariously through The Truth Blog Archives right now. Sure most of the pictures are gone, but the dreams are so much closer to being real.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Just about a year ago today was the start of one of the most amazing week of my life. It's no secret that I have a bit of an obsessive personality. I have to be very careful starting something new. I'm not one of the guys who picks up a guitar today and puts it down next week. Mostly it's petty things and they're manageable but sometimes their big and bad and they take over everything from my best dreams to the scariest nightmares.

Something happens to me when I see a superbike. It's a primal urge and I try to push it deep down inside where no one can hear it. I know that it would only take one ride around the block. My wallet would empty, my free time would cease to exist and I'd probably end up as a puddle on a little square of pavement. But last year someone saw a little glimmer in the back of my eye as they talked about the Motorcycle Grand Prix in Laguna Seca, California. Next thing I knew they were putting a VIP ticket in one hand and dragging me to the track by the other.

For a weekend I just soaked it all in. The smell of gas and rubber and red bull shot through with the adrenaline of speed. And then if life couldn't get any better, work paid me to go to the Playboy Mansion. I couldn't cling to my shell. So I brought along the hottest blonde I knew. There I was at the mansion, watching girls fawning over celebrities and football players and my date when I noticed the two small guys in the corner. The thing is, the fastest motorcycle racers in the world aren't big and bulky. They're small and light and streamlined and there were two of the best hiding out somewhere by the grotto. I think I was the only one to recognize them all night. All it took was a handshake and a hello and I was on my way. By the end of the night I had two new friends and the blonde I had brought couldn't understand why I was too busy to pay attention to her.

If that wasn't enough, two days later they packed me off to the ESPY awards where I pretty much met every sports hero I ever had. The week ended and I could die happy. Then I realized how easily that could be arranged. All I needed to do was call one of my new friends and ask them to lend me a bike.

Friday, July 21, 2006

There are many measures of a man. If you want to know how I go around judging whether someone's going to be my friend, my enemy or not worth the effort I'll tell you. It all comes down to the men's room. I'm not worried about peeking over the dividers or inside stalls, oh no. It's in the paper towels. A confident, self-assured man with sensibilities knows that the allotted length of one towel is enough to get the job done. Maybe I'll let two slide for the nose blow but anyone who goes for more than two, globs the water off and throws away his big stack is disgusting. The most I've ever seen? Six! Yes six. I pity the poor girl who gets stuck with that one.

I returned from europe to find that my favorite restaurant has installed an "environmentally friendly" blow dryer, but I can assure you that my environment of Alphas and confidants with be decidedly less friendly.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Coming home is like riding a bike and it takes less than a hour for all the visions of Moroccan streets, Italian countrysides, Czech rivers and Swedish girls to slink away deeper and deeper inside of me until they've such a small corner to curl up in that I'm no longer sure if I was ever gone or if I watched a special on the Travel Channel.

The best way to do this is by the numbers. Facts aren't emotions, they're just the leftovers when all emotions fade.

Days since I left my front door: 57

Amount of money I spent: Somewhere in the ballpark of $4000

Number of countries I set foot in: 17 in the order of Great Britain, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, France, Portugal, Spain, Morocco, Italy, Croatia, Serbia/Montenegro, Austria, Hungary, Slovakia, Poland, Czech Republic and Sweden.

Weight of my backpack before departure: 34 lbs.

Weight of Backpack upon return: 26 lbs.

Most Spectacular moment: Kitesurfing off the coast of Morocco to a small deserted island.

Most depressing moment: Having my friend's camera stolen after 7 weeks of travel.

Favorite activity: Taking night trains and dreaming away while the miles rolled by beneath me.

Best new acquaintance: Anwar, my new Moroccan friend who teaches english and invited me into his family home in the tiny town of Ksar el Kebir.

Number of girls I kissed: 5

Number of girls I kissed in their native country: 0.3. (She was Half Hungarian and Half Polish and we were on a night train between the two but most of the kissing happened over Slovakia... go look at a map).

Number of girls I slept with: Zero. Come on girls, give me more credit than that.

Number of phone calls to anyone in the states: Zero.

Number of beers consumed: impossible to determine

Number of trains/planes/subways/busses and taxis ridden during the trip: again impossible but certainly over 55.

Lasting memory that will keep my soul alive until the next adventure: Croatian sunsets, Marrakesh's main square bustling at night, Watching the light fade over the castle by the Vlatava river, everything in Porto, Portugal and the knowledge that I'll be back again.

Everything is blown wide open. I have no plans. I have no one depending on me. I have no job and nowhere to be and no classes and no girls grabbing for a piece of my time. I'm free and I'm going to build it all up from the basement again. I guess if you stay real quiet then I don't mind if you sit here and watch. Lucky you.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Oh my god where am I? Stockholm? Um... what country is that? Only 3 days, 4 train rides, 2 busses and 3airplanes away from you.
I know I am.