Thursday, May 31, 2007

Herceg Novi

I am in a new town now, Herceg Novi, about 20 minutes south of the border of Croatia. Earlier today I went to a traditional house building party. This is the day when the roof or second story is started, thereby allowing the people to live in it if they so wish (because they have a roof over their head). There was a table set for 15 with long planks of wood and the workers eating up a storm, lamb, cold cuts, salad, olives, bread, local pastry, beer, scotch and local moonshine. I shit you not. It was all fantastic but the moonshine (a form of Raki, a popular drink in Turkey and Greece) could make your throat ready to take control of future imbibing. It was intense. The last couple of days have been a bit lazy but still interesting. I stopped being a tourist in some respects and was living/hanging out as Montenegrins did. Yesterday we planted flowers at my host's new building site.

Now my new host is working at his jewelry store and probably we will go for drinks after he gets off work. I leave Sunday morning and hopefully will be home for dinner. I'm starting to get the end of vacation feeling where you start to want to get back to what you know, your bed, your toilet, your fridge, your language (or in this case my adopted language).

I'm reading an amazing book that my friend Kristian gave me for my birthday. It's about a blind guy in the 1820s who became the world's greatest traveller. It's improbable but well-written and I am really engrossed in it. I picked up some sea glass today and have gone through bouts of rain and sunshine so much I don't know what's what! hahaha

jason

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Perast, where I spent the morning today

Posted by Picasa

The view above Perast and the two islands

Sunset at Vlatkos house on the Bay of Kotor

Monty Neggry

I had the exhibition last night, went from 7pm to 1am, i was interviewed by the national newspaper and there were people from 6 different countries, spoke different languages with some impromptu music in the charming little square where the pictures were glued with wax onto old stone walls. Today I drove to the middle of the country with my host, about a 2 hour drive. Our goal was to retrieve his drivers license which had been taken from him a month or two earlier because of a traffic violation. We were stopped by a policeman just before entering a 4km tunnel. He was driving without a license. Fuck, he said while the window was still up. I thought we were in trouble. It turns out to be the same policeman who took his license away a while back! Vlatko gets out of the car and is gone more than 5 minutes. I dont have my passport with me, its in the room back at his place.

He gets back in the car and says that the policeman forgave him and he can continue driving. Apparently the dude called the chief of police who knew he was going to the capital, Podgorica, and the policeman learned that Vlatko was in fact on his way to get his license so somehow all was forgiven.

The capital itself was unimpressive save the other couchsurfers that I met again (Boris, Yelena). We had pizza, escaped from the rain and had a coffee down by the river in an alternative setting. It was under a small concrete bridge that was mostly painted up with strange simple paintings. Some of you will be getting postcards from there.

All right, now I just had a turkish coffee at 12.15am on monday night with my Montenegrin host and two other couchsurfers from Belarus.

cheers
p.s. Maya, I spoke Norwegian to 3 adults from Aalesund, they actually complimented me on my Norwegian after about 10 minutes, just after I said samme faen for meg! hahahah

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Montenegro

I dont feel like I have enough time to tell you everything that has happened but I will give it to you in short bullet points so you can try and get a feeling for the whole picture...

Thursday, my birthday, I was having a couple of beers in a nice square, beautiful weather and then at 9.30pm had to walk to the train station because my train was coming. It was late, and I met a lot of gothic Swiss people who were going to some hard rock festival in Leipzig. One guy gave me a beer. I made the connection to the next train barely, was on it for about 4 hours and then made the connection to the airport but I forgot my photos for the exhibition on the last train and had to run back into it to get them. That was close. I made it to the airport, we landed about 8.45am and then 45 minutes later Vlatko and Maki picked me up.

*I got yelled at by the lady working on the train because I asked her some information she was too lazy to find out for me.
*When I found Vlatko and Maki, we had an espresso and then went shopping at a big supermarket outside in Dubrovnik where they bought some hiking shoes, walking stick, some dog food and some tiki torches for the exhibition on Sunday.
*The coastline is improbably beautiful, seriously. Please do a google search of Bay of Kotor and you will get an idea of it.
*I went to the spot where the exhibition is going to take place, a small piazza with a small tree. We are going to decorate it and there are about 10 other couchsurfers who are coming to the event.
*Had a beer on the water with Vlatko and Maki while Maki was "working" at his jewelry store, which really meant sitting in the shade and getting up only when people walk in.
*We left Maki and then the two of us drove to Zelenika to visit his old uncle who lives in an even older hotel. It is dilapidated but right on the water and the uncle, who is an architect and lived in Hungary for many years, has drawn up plans to renovate it but they are looking for an investment. I spoke German with him and we had a small schnapps with him.
*Vlatko has 2 dogs, one of which is almost as big and heavy as I am. It is unnerving.
*We went to a stationery store and got some paper for the exhibition for free as they are a sponsor for the event.
*We then drove around most of the bay and it was just shocking as a first time experience. We stopped and looked at an old mill which has an expensive restaurant sent a bit back from the water but had an incredible setting.
*We had some lunch when we got back. It consisted of cold chicken, olives, tomatoes, cheese and bread.
*I went to a market to buy some water and the power went out while I was inside and had to wait until they had power back so they could charge me for the drink.
*Vlatko and I jammed (me with bongos) for about a half hour, all the while with an incredible view of the bay out the window, a small old church between us and the bay.
*We drove to his other property which is in the woods about 20 minutes away. They are going to build a house there. He watered the soon to be garden and it was super peaceful there.
*There were cows in the road on the switchback up over a hill to the property.
*Vlatko had a couple of stolen olive trees they took from some "bad Russian" who want to build a hotel where his property is.
*He called the chief of police to try and get some license back because it was taken from him a couple of months ago.
*We stopped in Kotor for a drink and met up with his girlfriend and her friend from Belgrade. The setting was a small square with two different kinds of churches and it was a perfect place to have a drink (or two).
*I slept like a rock from 11pm to about 9.30 with some small interruptions.

My second day here, just so beautiful. So far so good. I miss Assiyeah, wish she was here but she has the place at home to herself and is starting some work on her thesis.

Also, a quick shoutout to Maya for getting a job with Xerox in London! Good for you!

cheers
Jason

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The Warner Amendment

In what could actually be a brilliant political move, John Warner, republican senator from Virgina, had in his version of the Iraq Supplemental Funding Bill which was defeated 52-44, certain language that included the following:

SEC. 4. REDEPLOYMENT OF U.S. FORCES FROM IRAQ.
(a) The President of the United States, in respecting the sovereign rights of the nation of Iraq, shall direct the orderly redeployment of elements of U.S. forces from Iraq, if the components of the Iraqi government, acting in strict accordance with their respective powers given by the Iraqi Constitution, reach a consensus as recited in a resolution, directing a redeployment of U.S. forces.


Can you believe it? It basically would leave Bush without a way around not redeploying. We went to Iraq to give it freedom and democracy and they would be exercising democracy to its fullest, unlike us as of late. How could we continue to have troops there when the government that we hoped would be "Western" votes to ask us to leave?

Interesting....

It's strange weather now, thunder and lightning but mostly sunny with a haze overhead and threatening clouds on both sides of the valley...

Another Monica

It's hard to believe that a Monica might bring down another administration. Of course, the Bush administration fights to the death so we'll see what happens.



In probably one of my nerdiest moments (again), I'm less than 2 hours away from Ms. Monica Goodling testifying before the House Judiciary Committee about her illegal activities as liason for the Department of Justice and the White House. She has already failed to turn in all relevant documents (emails) about her involvement and so that doesn't bode well to her telling the truth but I have a feeling that if she doesn't, she might end up in jail tonight or very soon. If, by some miracle she does tell the truth, other people might be in jail soon, namely Karl Rove and Alberto Gonzales and Kyle Sampson but we'll see...



I'll be able to watch about 90 minutes before going out to a birthday dinner with some friends. In nine and a half hours I'll be 33. Oy vey!

Saturday, May 19, 2007

It's getting "closer" all the time (sung as beatles)

Just finished my Saturday private lesson, a relatively important businessman here in SW Germany, making decisions about other people's million-dollar salaries. I'm fascinated at the stuff we get talking about, important decisions that are left undecided and so from 7 people another smaller committee of 3 has been elected to decide how they will decide who the moderator is going to be. I think this guy would very much like to be the moderator, even has said that he actually should be (more from duty in terms of stature among the men rather than obligation) but he doesn't completely trust his English.

Which is a shame of course, because he can speak English quite well and is able to expoud on relatively complex topics and never has any problems with the high language grammar stuff. We talked about him hunting. He just got his hunting license 3 weeks ago and has already been 7 times but of course has yet to shoot anything but he has seen a few deer. I think he'll give me some of the meat when he does end up getting one.

It amazes me the people I know in this area. It also amazes me the people who know me in this area. I was at a party of a friend of ours last night but most of the people at the party were students and probably a few of them knew who I was but had never met me. One even tried to snap a shot or two of me and Assiyeah while we were dancing in one of the rooms. There were a few more people in the room dancing but we were getting down fo show, ya know? Anyway, I just felt it was silly, I try not to think of my "status" here because I also believe in this German idea of "I'm off work". And I think most could buy into that but I do remember being in college and having it be funny that one of the teachers from the university was at a bar we were at and dancing badly with someone but I'm pretty sure I didn't look that lame.

At least I hope not.

But don't worry, I grew up in So Cal. I just throw ma hands in da air, and pahdy like I chess doan kehr. I know what's up, don't worry ya'll...

But I think I might go to fewer parties like that in the future. Part of my livliehood is based on my reputation I suppose, but I guess I don't care what anyone thinks, except for the people who could fire me at any time but unfortunately those are the very people that the students who saw me would tell. And that's why I have to care a bit, but just a bit.

I'm going into the city to buy some B/W film and some new headphones for the trip to Montenegro.

I'm going to Frankfurt tomorrow to go to an NFL Europe game. We're taking the Schoenes Weekend special group ticket with a couple of cases of beer, a football, frisbee and food and see what happens. I'll fill ya in, aiight?

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Nana

Today is my nana's birthday. She's not with us anymore, she passed away late last year. I talked to her on the phone the day before she died. It's difficult to imagine how much something as singular and sort of freakish as that is, how important that is to one's grieving. She was in the hospital at the time but it was completely unknown at the time that she was so close to death. She was having an operation but was fine at the time. We talked for 5 minutes and we both acknowledged how cool it was that I was calling from Germany and all that jazz. I wished her well, told her that I would see her in 6 weeks for Xmas and that was it.

So it goes.

But it's more than that of course. Today she would have been 84. I don't think she finished junior high and she got to see that I graduated college and am living a full and interesting life. It must be one of the most satisfying experiences in life to see your kin getting a chance to live a good life. Most likely 5 billion of the 6+ billion people on earth have relatively horrible lives in terms of standard of living and opportunity.

But I digress. It's a holiday in Germany, Christi Himmelfahrt aka Ascension. Don't worry, I didn't expect you to know that either. It's cool though, because in German it translates to "heaven drive". Sounds good, eh?

My birthday's in a week. At 9.58pm on my birthday, I'll be on a train to Munich and then fly to Dubrovnik, Croatia. You should do a quick google for dubrovnik and photos and you'll get an idea of just how amazing the area looks, and then I got a week in Montenegro. Man, I can't wait!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Happy Mother's Day

Let's be honest. Without my mom I wouldn't be here today. So today's for her...

I'll be home in two and a half months and I know my mom is happy as hell about that, I'm pretty stoked about it too.

I had a kick ass dinner last night of: salad that had apples and pears and roasted nuts in it, some salmon with rice and broccoli with a mango/pineapple curry and coconut milk sauce, man oh man. We started with some Alsatian champagne and later had some vodka lemons after an espresso after dinner.

I have done a good job this weekend of not doing too much. I bought a blender, I had a private lesson, I have a 5-day work week coming up but Thursday off. I plan on going to Frankfurt on Sunday to go to an NFL Europe game with some buddies.

And you?

Thursday, May 10, 2007

10,000 to 15,000

That's how many lawyers are in the Department of Justice, according to Alberto Gonzales.

God only knows what that mysterious 5,000 are up to...

00000000000000000

watching attorney general Alberto Gonzales testify before the House Judiciary Committee live on cspan.org

dig it, this is as good as television gets right now.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Lazy?

It's funny, we watched Office Space in a Business English class today. I think the students really enjoyed it and it was probably the 15th time I've watched that movie but it never really gets old. It made me think about what the main character Peter says he would do if he didn't have to work.

"I would do nothing. I would sit on my ass all day. I would do nothing."

And while it's exaggerated, I find myself enjoying the same goddamn thing quite often. For example, last weekend Assiyeah was gone, the weather wasn't great and I spent a good portion of the weekend doing nothing. And it was great. I read a lot on political blogs, watched a couple of movies, sat around and just sort of enjoyed having nothing to do. See, part of it is because of work. I spend all day standing in front of various people (or sitting at tables with them) of various ages and language abilities in various locations for various amounts of money and it is exhausting. It takes a lot of effort to get some people to talk, or to entertain others, to help them through this "left brain" activity of letting go and just speaking. And don't get me wrong. I really do like my job (well, about 4-5 of the 9) and I am proud of what I do and I love my life that is afforded me by the job I do but at the end of the day I am exhausted. I don't want to talk anymore, I don't want to entertain people. I just want to be a bump on a log and chill. Is there anything wrong with that?

I could be working on my writing. Hell, I haven't done anything with "Selling to the Norwegians" in over a year. I'd like to get that short story collection together. Remember, the stories are already written, I just need to decide which ones to use and clean them up a bit. I have 4 other novels that I could work on and send to publishers or, at the very leasy, print them up and develop a website to allow me to sell them there.

That's it. I want to start a new website but I'm not ready yet. I want to have photos and stories on there that can be purchased by people so that I could be at work and come home and learn that some of my stories were purchased at like 3bucks/story and photos for various prices. I have stuff I'd like to do in this "free time" but I really just wanna do nothing. Am I lazy?

Sunday, May 06, 2007

3pm Sunday

It's perfect weather, I've gone jogging, graded 10 tests, even cleaned up a bit! I watched some Simple Life 3, Woodstock documentary, and now just watching King of Queens, a show that my folks and my buddy Gregg said they liked. So far so good. Some good jokes but I'm an easy mark.

I talked to a guy in Montenegro named Vlatko today. He's helping me with an exhibition in exactly 3 weeks. The photos have been developed and that's all that's gonna happen. He did tell me that it's going to be at a friend's gallery and we will be festive in the "piazza". It's going to incorporate Couchsurfing as well, with photos of places I've had couchsurfing experiences and hopefully bring a few strangers together to become friends.

I have a new private student on Wednesday afternoon, a Korean girl whose sister knows Yumi, another private student I have who is from Japan. I will teach her about 3-4 times and she then's going to another place, maybe home. My life always has interesting paths crossing.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

belief

a post I just made on a political blog, www.firedoglake.com .....

-----------------------------------

hey all,
had my american newspapers class today and they had to read 4 different articles about the US Attorney Purge and then we discussed it and why it is such a big deal and how the MSM is not covering it as much EVEN THOUGH there are 4 articles about it in “major” newspapers. I gave them for homework the revelation from a couple days ago, the Mar 20, 2007 editorial from the dude in the W district of Pennsylvania saying the Buchanan chick should resign. And that she appears to have been asked which USAs to fire.
The students are bored of the topic after one class. Or rather, it’s too complex for them to undertand. One thought it was idealistic of me to expect my government to actually uphold the Constitution and I told her we had to believe that some public servants do a fantastic job in this world but that’s not what we’re talking about.
1)They were confused to learn that the President could appoint the USAs based on their political party (and experience) and that of course all of them were from the same party. I had to tell them that in theory (i.e. 200 years), the pure idea of respecting the Constitution and following the law to the letter was their job thereafter, regardless of political party. Should that part of our system be changed?
2)They didn’t understand why Bush wouldn’t fire Gonzales. I tried to explain that have to confirm another AG in these times is going to insure someone who HAS to be honest, not to mention digging up the past 6 years like turning over soil so you can plant some new veggies in the Fall. Embarassing questions about the AG’s role and how it is now, with Democrat-controlled government, all that.
3)The idea that the other 85 (Buchanan, et al) USAs who didn’t lose their jobs might have done something to NOT get fired. It’s unfortunate that this sort of doubt has to be raised but it has to be raised. We need to review the past 18 months of all USAs and current case load to find out who is doing their job and who’s not. I wish we didn’t have to spend tax-payer money to do this but it’s the best way to spend the money.
-000000000
I gotta go grocery shopping but I’m hanging on to every word from this site and a few others. I think this is the biggest story happening within the United States even though I don’t live there anymore and it’s barely a ripple on the surface. Everyone’s “too busy” to really find out what’s going on but this stuff’s been going on for a long time, it’s just more out in the open and “don’t give a rat’s ass if you see it or not” and stall.
At least I’m trying from my end to educate the peeps!

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

May Day

god bless the day off!

I wish I had all this interesting stuff to talk about today but I'm mostly happy about not having to work. I did have a private lesson but it was only an hour and we ate lunch together.

I have a full 2/3 of the week after today but that's okay, work isn't a bad thing, although my dad often says: "That's why work is a four-letter word."

I went out with Gregg and Marsha last night and ended up not getting home until 2am. Falling asleep sometime before 3am has made me tired today. I could go jogging, I could do some work here, I could go down by the river and chill out, I just don't know yet. I could just as easily sit on the sofa and watch a movie and be glad I have nothing to do. It's hard to know but I guess I don't have to know.

It's 3.07pm on Tuesday. May 1st is a day off in Europe. I like that. In fact, there are quite a few holidays in May, it's going to fly by. I think.