Saturday, May 31, 2008

South Dakota

So two couchsurfers from South Dakota should be showing up sometime soon. Chick F is on her way over and I think all of us with new roommate Eva are going down to the punk bar for dinner. I could cook but I think that that it's too late (ironically we will end up eating later because we'll have to order the food but).

I went to an English Department student body party last night with two other teachers from the university. There were also some students with us and we made a nice little party. I then went to an old roommate's birthday party on my way home and finally got home around 1.15am.

Tomorrow at 10am I have an artist meeting with other artists from iran, japan, germany and america for an international exhibition, should be interesting. Will go to the gym with Fox after that and then have the afternoon to chill and grade some homework.

I also put together my Romania photo album, it's not perfect but it's tangible and people can see it now if they like.

I'll fill ya in on more as details come... :)

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The first 9 hours of today

I woke up at 7am, my alarm going off. I normally wake up before it goes off but it was a tough way to start the day. Showered quickly after reading main news sites briefly (lakers win!) and then have some bread with butter and liverwurst, probably the first time in my life that i had that for breakfast (knowingly) and I almost never eat breakfast.


I left at 7.42, giving Chick F a kiss on her cheek as she slept on, took my bike to work. I missed my turn to the "bike highway" by the river and realized my mistake, turned back 10 meters and changed my mind again, taking a different route to work. I saw one of the students smoking a cigarette outside the building, something I've never seen at that job, and went upstairs and taught 4 people ranging in age from 35 to 65 about irregular past tense verbs and a little survey "what makes a good friend" where they have to rank different statements like "someone who listens to my problems" and "someone who has the same interests as you". That job went from 8am to 9.15am and then I went downstairs, rode my bike 30 meters to the corner and parked my bike. I'm wearing a golf t-shirt, army shorts and flipflops and walk into the most expensive law office in town.


I had a "full house" today from 9.30-10.30am, 5 lawyers, 2 of them partners and 3 associates and we read an article about an Italian guy who was detained upon arrival in America for 10 days for no known reason and would not be released even after pleas from one of Virginia's senators. Then we started going through different "values" like "power corrupts" and "everyone should receive free medical care when ill" and they have to agree or disagree with those statements. It was fascinating to see how they were able to parse these short statements. I had 5 lawyers breaking down 2-word sentences into 5 minutes of discussions of the implications of how the sentence was worded. We then spoke about the previous night's Germany-Belarus friendly soccer match, then about South Africa's chances of pulling it together enough for the World Cup in 2010.


I left at 10.30am and rode my bike in the "wrong" direction for 2-3 minutes to put some air in my tyres (haha, just kidding, tires. been teaching too much British English of late) but the combo bike/book store was gone. Some other foreigner working on taking the shit out of their said in bad German, "everything gone". No air for the tires.


I went to the English department to make copies. It took me about 20 minutes to get 260 copies made because the the machine was acting up. I saw a co-worker who was sporting a small shiner. Apparently he took a dive on his bike in front of the cops in the center of town at midnight on a Friday night and had to endure the ambulance coming and another cop car coming to make him do the breathalizer.


I then decided to spend more on coffee because I wanted to sit in one of the beach chairs a cafe had. There is 1euro coffee at one place in the old town but this other place it ended up costing 2euros. But the chair was great, I I read the paper for a bit, some of my new Mark Twain autobiography. I saw an old student riding by and he stopped for a coffee, we talked of ex-girlfriends and new girlfriends. He went to class.


Another class of mine came to meet for lunch. We couldn't eat where we wanted and had to go to the next restaurant where the service was horrific, the timing of the dishes could not have been worse with one guy finishing his lunch before anyone else got theirs, and then bade them farewell and rode my bike 10 minutes to the gym where I met a fellow english teacher. He hit it hard for an hour, talking about how drunk we were at my birthday party, vacation plans (he's doing Tuscany and back home for Thanksgiving) and sports.


I rode my bike home, went down to the cellar to try and throw some stuff away but couldn't bring myself to do it and ended up bringing a couple of things up.


That was more or less the first 9 hours of my day. I spent 37.50euros (including that month's gym membership) and earned 116 euros, fyi.
I'm leaving you with one of my favorite squares in Freiburg...


Liberal

It's finally hit home to me. The former press sectary to Bush, Scott McClellan, has come out with a book chiding the media for being "too deferential" to the Bush Administration. How can it be called a liberal media when the Republican President's own ex-press secretary accuses the press of not being hard enough on the president? He went so far as to say that Bush propagandized the war and that Karl Rove and Scooter Libby at best "misled" him as to their involvement in former CIA agent Valerie Plame's outing in 2003.

And here's the point. I would guess that my parents and many people back home in Orange County would think that in some ways, the president hasn't been doing a good job or they "don't approve of the job he's doing." That doesn't make them liberal for feeling that way but that's how the debate has been framed. Many people are going to vote for John McCain who are absolutely disgusted by Bush's presidency. That doesn't make them liberals. Hell, you wouldn't know by watching the "liberal media", but McCain is attempting to become even more conservative (or at least in the lowest forms just pandering to various factions until after the election) than Bush ever was. But somehow speaking out against the president makes you a "liberal" and the way the word is said by some "conservatives" makes you think their mouthes had to take the trash out.

There are very many conservatives things about me. I think we should conserve our national parks. I think we should conserve our natural resources. I think we should conserve by avoiding a never-ending (or -winning) war that is bleeding the treasury dry through various shell companies but many of it ending up in wealthy suburbs of DC and LA and Riyadh and London and Tel Aviv. I think we should conserve government's influence on our day-to-day lives, weather it be regulating language on television/radio, decriminalizing marijuana, thereby allowing many DEA agents to work on more important people, like people flying planes of cocaine into America.

I think we should conserve ourselves. I am more or less a "free spender", a pretty good customer of spending money but I do not lose any of my money monthly to "interest" owed to various credit card companies, etc. I conserve my money in other ways.

Anyway, just because you disagree with what the president is doing, if you think he should be impeached, if you think he should be put on trial for possible war crimes, these things do not necessarily make you a liberal. I have become a "librul" not because I live in Europe. It's not because of the War (at least it wasn't). It was because I lived in Europe, and because of the War and most importantly, I started seeking out more information. This started big after I got back from South America 20 months ago, I started to want to know more what was happening in the world. The search for knowledge became a never-ending wormhole where at any minute you expect to see a small guy in the center of the earth pulling a bunch of levers. It's funny because while we'll "never know" "everything", that little guy pulling the levers probably won't be as far from the truth as we think...

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Israel

I would love to go to Israel. Maybe next year, who knows? I have relatives in Israel. I believe Israel has the right to exist. That said...

I just read a disturbing blog post about a guy named Finkelstein having been denied from entering Israel (for what would have been the 16th time) because of his anti-Israeli rhetoric. He wanted to visit some friends in the Occupied Territories.

People in America are detained from entering on the flimsiest of reasons. Professors who are invited from Switzerland to teach a semester at Notre Dame are denied from entry. A professor from Yale was denied tenure because of his occasional anti-Israeli rhetoric. We call it anti-Israeli rhetoric even when you advocate the forming of a Palestinian State. People in America are often more conservative in their views of Israel than the very people who live in Israel. The majority of people who live in Israel are for talking to Hamas. Even if they are a "terrorist organization", they are an elected governing body in "fair elections", the very thing that America demands of countries around the world even though the world has become demonstrably worse with our last major election (2000) when the Supreme Court and not the people who voted decided who would win. Imagine if Pakistan or Indonesia or Venezuela or Turkey had elections that were determined by those countries' Supreme Courts. We would have denounced them as unfair and undemocratic.

What's my point? Arguably the largest reason for terrorist activity in the world is because of the disputed Territories around Israel. I don't think Israel should negotiate with anyone from Palestine who doesn't first and foremost say that Israel have a right to exist. Of course they shouldn't. But at what point is Israel being unreasonable. It is surrounded by countries that hate them. That's okay, they still have the right to exist and flourish as they have for the past 60 years (congratulations by the way) but don't they want peace? Aren't they willing to give up some of their settlements for peace? I know, they have to negotiate with people who hate them, who despise them, even just as a matter of historical perspective, but when isn't negotiating or even "talks" not the wisest decision?

It's a frustrating venture and it is something most people in the world have an opinion about. By lopping off the most extreme opinions from both sides of the equation, I think you would find enough in the rich, green middle to encourage discussion. Israel has more to lose so they have to be careful. Palestine has nothing to lose and so they can afford to be reckless. What about the rest of us?

http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2008/05/27/finkelstein/index.html

is the link to the article I read that made me think about this...

Monday, May 26, 2008

Antigua, baby!

Yesterday I booked a timeshare for Chick F and I in Guatemala. It will be the last 5 days of our trip in Central America. I'm hoping it will be convenient to the old town of Antigua where the timeshare is located. We also plan to spend the first couple of nights in a nice hotel in Costa Rica. Assiyeah and I did the same in Lima, Peru two years ago and ending in a nice hotel was definitely the way for us to go. After some rough travelling and adventurous couchsurfing, having a resort to finish off the long journey sounds fantastic.

Today is my first 5 day work week in a long time. I'm sure you feel bad for me... Granted, I only have a 90-minute private lesson on Friday but still, after having barely worked for 2+ weeks, a full week is gonna kill me! hahhahaha

But it's all worth it because two months from today I will have my first full day of a two-month holiday and I can't wait. A week in SoCal and then 6 weeks in Central America and then another 2 weeks in California including a Black Crowes concert and San Francisco. It's going to be an epic summer.

My new roommate should move in tonight. I've already had one new roommate the past couple of months and she and I get along well and so I'm hoping this third one will add even more synergy to the group. I knew she would be the new roommate when she told me that she was originally from Bratislava, not a week after Chick F and I had returned from there. She even has family in the same neighborhood (Dubravka) of Bratislava where we stayed a couple of nights! I guess it was meant to be.

Lakers are up 2-1 in the series. A political pundit on Fox News jokingly referred to the assasination of Barack Obama. More than 8 billion dollars in contracts in Iraq cannot be accounted for. Sounds like same ol same ol to me...

Sunday, May 25, 2008

34

how did i spend my 34th birthday? Well, I was up and at the punk bar until 3am and woke up around 11.30am with a nice little hangover. Chick F and I spent most of the day in bed watching Friends and Two and a Half Men, ordered in Chinese, had some chocolate chip ice cream. I did more or less nothing and it was great.

Going to see the new Indiana Jones Sunday at 3pm.

I bought 4 tix to see the Black Crowes on September 17th in LA, got Row D which I'm stoked about.

I have three weeks in a row with a lot of work. It's going to kick my ass but it'll be good for me somehow...

Thursday, May 22, 2008

29,748,971

This website is the 29,748,971 most popular website on earth! According to http://www.alexa.com/data/details/traffic_details/jasonconga.blogspot.com. Cool, right?

A day off but I worked

I just had a private lesson from 11am to 12.30pm. He drove an hour to be here. He gave me 50euros. That money is going to buy 2-3 cases of beer, 2 bottles of liquor for the party tomorrow. I got a birthday party here tomorrow and you're invited.

Last night was the Champions League Finale. Manchester United beat Chelsea on penalty kicks. It was a pretty good game, actually and I watched it with Owen, Rebecca, Elisa (from from CA) and later Alex. I had pork filet in a dijon-mustard sauce with friends and salad and 5 beers and my bill was 15.50euros or about 24 bucks with tip. It doesn't seem so cheap in dollars but in Euros it's a good price.

Elisa and I had a beer at 11am yesterday. It was great.

Lakers won game 1 of their Western Conference Finals series against the Spurs.

Weekend!!!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Tuesday afternoon

I was at a friend's birthday celebration last night. It was a mellow affair but a nice time. I left at the right time, about 5 beers in. I'm still recovering from Romania! hahah

A friend, Elisa is going to Freiburg today. It's unfortunate I have to work at 8am tomorrow but we're going to walk around and explore some of the city and then do dinner with Chick F. Tomorrow night should be more fun.

I know, not much of an update but it's better than nothing...

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Romania in a nutshell

Taking the bus to the airport, I got off and found myself across the street from the airport, which was a quarter of the size of a Home Depot. It took me and 4 other people about a minute for enough traffic to die down for us to run across the street. There's no crosswalk...

The beginning of my Romanian photo exhibition

video

about 8.30pm in Sighisoara, Romania

Some kids who wanted to be in a photo

video

A Pillow Fight in Freiburg

video

my first ever video posting!

Some photos from Romania


my first horse-drawn cart. Notice the castle in the background. I had been crawling around it's perimeter a half hour earlier...

Peles in Sinaia, the summer home of the first royal family.



Some kids in Apold, a small village of less than 1,000
one of a few "typical" Sighisoara streets in the Citadel
Where I slept for 2 nights in Sighisoara Citadel

Nesting

It's 11.30am Sunday morning, breakfasted and sitting in quiet half darkness while a pretty nice day rages outside. I went to sleep around 3.30am and was up just before 10, wanted more sleep but that's how it was. I went down to the supermarket which to an American is more like a 7-11 on steroids. I had eggs and sausage and a bread roll and some canned fish in a mustard-dill sauce.

It's hard to describe how good it feels to be home. The trip was intense, mostly because there was so little downtime (though there was some but mostly it was spent in internet cafes), and by couchsurfing every night, it meant having to be "on" constantly. I can do it, but when you combine that with not getting enough sleep and not being as clean as you'd like, and eating foods that are mostly fried because some of the other stuff you aren't too sure about, having to keep your wits about you walking down a dirt road in a small village, feeling vaguely threatened but mostly be the foreignness of it all.

Brasov was a nice town, with beautiful surroundings and enough energy to give it some "umph". Sighisoara was small and antiquated and charming beyond belief and yet almost tearingly in need of repair but ironically, it's that lack of repair that gives a charm that should really just be a memory in this day and age. Sibiu was pretty with a huge main square with well-renovated buildings. It looked like Romania for tourists like my parents, at least in the center. Outside the main center it looked like regular Romania. And finally Cluj was fun. Cluj had lots of international young people running around there and plenty of cafe life and the such. It was definitely the largest of the 4 places. I met some great people on the trip, and some of the couchsurfers I met were Boti, Hans, Leonie, Julie, Monica, Isa, Christian, George, Brice, Solene, Szende, Elisa, Marius, Corina, David, Bogi. Crazy, right? These are people from Romania, Germany, America, China, and France. These are all people I MET while in Romania for 8 days. I'm sorry but in any other form of travelling (with the exception of a church retreat or gathering) will you get to know so many different kinds of people.

I'm going to watch a movie soon in my darkened room, hopefully nap a bit and take a memorable shower, call the folks, make some dinner, and then Chick F will be coming over. We haven't seen each other in 8 days and we've got a few things to say to each other. :) Don't have to work again until Wednesday at 8am. I could have stayed in Romania 3 more nights but I was done. I was tired and everything I had was dirty but it wasn't worth it to do laundry and I just needed to feel my nest to get recharge, ya know?

My Last Will and Testament

Don't get too excited, I just found it in a box I had. It was written 2 years and one month ago. Of course some things are outdated and will need to be changed but with my 34th birthday coming up on Friday night at midnight, what a great time to see what's important to me now.

I woke up in Cluj-Napoca, Romania today, had breakfast with my hosts, took a bus into town, wandered around for some time, checked email, went to a cafe with one of the hosts, was picked up by another at the church and then went to a cafe where another was, and when I left, I left my cell phone there and one of the girls took a taxi with her boyfriend to bring it to me at the airport, my flight was late and I barely made the train and then it was going to be close getting the tram in freiburg but it was mysteriously 7 minutes late (something that never happens) and I made it home to the nest. Listening to Jack Johnson which is so right and mellow now, going to be soon. Cheers...

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Cluj'd

After a 6-hour train ride yesterday, I found the place where two French couchsurfers were, Solene and Brice. Super nice and friendly people. They had a small cartoon workshop and had some apertif and then gave away two trips to France to a couple of the students at the workshop!

We then had dinner in a nice restaurant where I had stuffed cabbage and polenta and a beer for about 5euros. Our topics or conversation ranged from sex to Palestine. It was an interesting dinner to say the least. Then we went to a cafe for a couchsurfing meeting and there it got out of control. There were about 10 people there and were speaking all sorts of languages, romanian, hungarian, german, english, spanish, greek but all mixed and people were changing languages before my eyes and I knew that this one of the reasons I moved to Europe and am a couchsurfer.

My host and I took a taxi home around 12.30am and the driver was an electrical engineer by day and a taxi driver at night, something that sure as hell don't happen in California!

Had a very comfortable bed to sleep in, not quite enough sleep but enough to get me home today, had a good breakfast and am now in the city center with a few hours to kill before heading home and I wanted to make sure that i could update ya'll before being in transit again.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Drinking with a Revolutionary

I arrived in Sibiu in the afternoon and spent the whole evening in a cafe waiting for my host. He wasn't able to arrive until about 12.40am but that's couchsurfing, ya gotta be flexible. We went to a cellar bar where 3 of his friends were already a few sheets to the wind: one a journalist, another an actor and the third a "revolutionary from 89". They insisted I drink some local liquor with them and it was horrifically large and strong and went down like swallowing something that shouldn't be meant for consumption. These were not people I was going to disappoint however. I was unable to ask about what kind of revolutionary but that's how he was introduced.

I had the most comfortable bed of the trip so far but unfortunately only was in it from 2.20am to 7.45am so not enough yet again. I took 3 trains to Cluj, about 6 hours away and it was a long afternoon but interesting. I met a young woman who is a banking student who had taken the train more than 3 hours just to take an exam and then, on her "vacation day" which she had to take in order to go to Sibiu to take the exam, planned to go into the office that afternoon. She said her job will pay her about 300euros/month, more than the average job in Romania but quite disturbing information. She spoke of the expensive train, paying 3euros for a 3+-hour ride and I didn't have the heart to tell her that I have made 300euros on numerous days and that a 3 hour train ride in Germany would cost about a third of her monthly salary.

Now I'm in the French department of the university in Cluj-Napoca. My hosts are doing a cartoon workshop and just informed two of the students that they have won free trips to france for their drawings.

I'm flying home tomorrow and with luck will be in my apartment around 12.30am. Cheers...

Thursday, May 15, 2008

A to the B to the B to the motherfuckin A

Can one go anywhere in the world without hearing "Dancing Queen" by ABBA? Sweet Jesus, just when I was getting used to the idea of being in an internet cafe in a glorified cave in a village with at best 3 full sets of teeth on comes Dancing Queen. Of course there are almost no other people in here and one of the main reasons I'm here is because this little layover wasn't as satisfying as I'd hoped. After trouncing around 14th century (it felt like it at least) Apold the other day, I was told Medias would be similar but no, it's actually like a small town but feels like a village. Too many buildings have been painted recently and it was so unbelievably creepy seeing the hottest chick in town (was she 15 or 25, who knows) being followed by 3-4 poorly dressed, partially untoothed freaks smiling like they couldn't wait until she got around the corner. I can't believe i"m going to spend another 2.5 hours in this town. I wonder if I should apply for a job, start drinking beer or both.

On another note, the exhibition went well last night, if by well I mean 7 people sitting on a white rug in the middle of the room surrounded by candles and telling stories about our grandfathers in WWII. Let's get the most disturbing recorded for posterity: the Romanian guy (he's a Saxon which means he has German roots and German is his first language) said one of his grandfathers joined the SS and manned a guard tower at a concentration camp. When he came back to Romania after the war, he was often beaten by police and died sometime in the early 50s. He also described how it was after the war apparently. New prisoners are brought into the jail and are befriended by the old ones who induce them to agree that the new regime is shit and then, after a familiarity was developed, proceeded to beat the shit out of the newbies for saying bad things about the regime. They made the people tell all the worst things of their lives, "admitting" they had raped their mothers and sisters and in this way, the Romanian concluded, they were able to kill the spirits of the people. I guess so...

Jason needs a few things, namely:
1)a proper night sleep that includes no floor, nothing inflated, nothing with an obscene bar running through it.
2)A shower with an unlimited amount of hot water
3)a toilet with running water and unlimited toilet paper and a lock
4)food whose provenance I am fairly certain of. I ordered a small pizza at the station today and part of it had the beginnings of mold on it so I only ate the top of it and left the other 2/3 alone. I'll let you know if the third I ate was okay
5)TLC... :)

a story from my buddy, Dude A

So fun...spelling was second priority to remebering to tell you. So Dude W and I drove to Laughlin on Friday. Met up with his bro and cousin and three friends. One named Zack Something , who knew of me and hoped he would be able to live up to my reputation. It could not have been a more "city from America" group! We are all basically wired the same. We partied hard!!! Long story short we got to the "Losers Lounge" the place to be to party hardy. We arrive along side 12 Bacheloretts from CA as well. they were fun and we spent the entire night dancing and frolicing until their bride to be finally concked out for the long hall (really really drunk girl) I went after the hottest one, and got the 2 hours later, "I have a boyfriend" So I drank more red-bull vodka's (so bad...but soo good at the time) I dance with a chick "A" for ahwile and she bails to her husband. So I end up closing the bar out at 8am with one other guy in the place watching a Janis Joplin cover band. I was their "one day worlds greatest fan" Almost fucked Janis (big big girl) Dodged a bullet and retired after greeting all the morning folks on their way to work. Wake up went to pool got wasted, and Dude W and I played on a Pai-gow table for 6 hours, winning 40 bucks each anf drinking 15-18 free drinks. Parlay that to another night back to the " Losers Lounge" I'm on the dance floor with no hesitation to pick up where I left off. These two black chick see me and are like" Look at white boy" so they come over and freek me at the same time (personal moment that goes in my record books) we get dirty, I'm slamming my hand on the ground for the song lyric "to window..to the floor, to floor" Great shit. So them after freeking a few of the bachelorettes from the night before, I was approached by married chick A. She grinds me I grind her, I say lets smoke a cig (real smart) and we go up the the upper deck and put on a "Grituitous Display of PDA" I was dry banging this girl in public doggie, spider, cowboy, reverse cowboy. At one point we are on the floor I'm kissing her poon outside her pants, she's holding my cock etc...She had her limits though, as a good married women should? Either way the dancing comboed with red bull vodkas started making me feel ill, so I was like listen fuck mushy goodbyes ( after a 2 hour make out) so I said take care and split. Long story short Dude W wakes me up after 2 hours sleep and says lets get the fuck out of here. I hated him for 5 min, but realized he was right. A really hard 6 hour drive home went down, and we made it. That place kicks ass. No frills, no shows, just hardcore party people who like to gamble, drink, dance and I'm sure some acctully get laid too. I needed to drop my standards a little to achyieve that. Speaking of which one of the guys in our group apparently lap danced the seven yes seven fattest girls in the place, and bopped his penus on one of their heads in the club. He friends quote was priceless, "It was sooo fucking humiliating". Worse even is that the bachelors wife to be, is going there on her bachelorette party next weekend. I wouldn't send my girl there!That's that, i have to work now,Peace out,
--------------------------
I don't condone any of the above behavior but wanted the world to know it does indeed exist and was probably nearly as fun as it sounds! :) Thanks to Dude A for living like that sometimes...

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Apold

I visited a small village today of about 800 people called Apold. It was about 25 minutes by bus from Sighisoara. When I got off, before the dust had even settled, some kids ran up and wanted their picture taken. First I used my normal camera but then they wanted to see themselves so I had to use the digital camera. They wanted more and more photos until finally I said "bastante" which is Spanish for "enough". I don't know if they understood that but "ultima" they understood.

I was there about 2.5 hours and took about 70 pictures. I went to a house next to the fortified church that 2 German girls are keeping up and they invited me to coffee and then a simple lunch of cold potatoes and spinach, smoked cheese, fresh radish and chives, it was fantastic.

While walking around, some dude got in my face about taking a picture of someone's door. He didn't understand me but he was saying something about me having written permission to photograph or not. What a kook! I walked out of his sight and started taking photos again. An old woman named Leonata invited me to sit next to her and we enjoyed a moment in the sun even though we couldn't talk to each other. I drank a cold beer in the shade by myself about 10 minutes after that and some time after that the bus came and I took it the village in between Sighisoara and Apold called something like Saes (Shays). I had about 40 minutes and walked around, started feeling some sun stroke but I did try and visit the church there but it was closed. Some little kids whose parents apparently live on the grounds of the church got the key but it wouldn't open the lock so I couldn't visit it.

I saw about 10 horses with carts today.

I'm showered and clean and thinking about dinner. You?

couchsurfing stats

So I'm up here early, about 7.35am after having gone to bed around 1:15am because it's cold, my nose was stuffed and the 3 chairs put together for my bed were a bit uncomfortable but hey, who's complaining?

I thought I would try to convey some couchsurfing stats for ya'll, something I was thinking about last night going to bed...

1)Ukraine: Kiev, hanging out with the person
2)Estonia: Tallinn, hanging out; Tartu, first time sleeping somewhere
3)Latvia: Riga, stayed with the person
4)Lithuania: Vilnius
5)Germany: Cologne
6)Netherlands: Amsterdam 4 times, Utrecht and Alkmaar
7)Italy: Naples and Salerno
8)USA: New York and Boston
9)Ireland: Cork
10)Norway: Oslo, Narvik
11)Hungary: Sopron
12)Slovakia: Bratislava
13)Austria: Vienna
14)France: Strasbourg
15)Greece: Athens
16)Turkey: Istanbul, Antalya, Selcuk, Bursa
17)Argentina: Tucuman, Salta, Tilcara
18)Paraguay: Asuncion
19)Bolivia: Sucre
20)Peru: Arequipa
21)Montenegro: near Kotor, Herceg Novi
22)Romania: Brasov, Sighisoara

So, that looks like 22 countries with about 34 cities. Amsterdam 4 times. Istanbul 2 different hosts. I think it's about 92 days' worth of either being hosted or hanging with strangers, some of whom now are my friends. Rome in July and Central America this summer will add to those stats, as will Sibiu and/or Cluj in the next days.

I'm tired. :)

Monday, May 12, 2008

Sighisoara

howdy ya'll!

I made it to Sighisoara after about 2 hours on the train in the green countryside in the rain. This town is beautiful in a natural setting and wrinkles kind of way. It badly needs a paint job and cobblestones for the roads but I'm glad it doesn't, that's the irony of the experience. The very thing it needs it lacks and that's why it's beautiful.

I haven't travelled alone in a non-English speaking country for more than a week since last May in Montenegro. I had a great time there while not doing much. The same thing is happening here, there is much to do here but that's okay, it has been interesting seeing how another culture lives and trust me, even though this the European Union now, this is most definitely another culture. It is strange, though, because I find Eastern Europe to be vaguely depressing. I'm not sure if it's the language barrier, the frustration of trying to do anything or what but I do know that I started thinking a couple of hours ago about coming home a day or two early, even if it costs me 100 bucks. I most likely will stay until Tuesday when my flight is scheduled to leave but I could picture myself going home Saturday or Sunday, having enjoyed a full week here and then giving myself a day or two to relax at home before working again. I'll let ya know...

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Gypsies

While eating a pizza an hour ago, some young gypsy woman came by begging for change while holding her baby in her other arm. Well, one of the waitresses didn't take to that too kindly and proceeded to swat at the woman with a menu and smacked her twice on her arm/shoulder/head and they were yelling at each other. It clearly constituted assault though of a minor sort but it didn't seem to be anything that surprised anyone. It was like a small dog had come to beg for scraps and got kicked in the ribs.

happy mothers day from romania!

I am in Transylvania, the heart of romania, couchsurfing as always! Right now I am at the host's parents' apartment and we are going to have breakfast now so I wont write too much but wanted to tell you about this crazy country! I saw 3 castles, sang karaoke, went to a birthday party and saw some live music and also saw horses and carts and gypsies oh my!

If you are curious, the songs I sang were: "Celebration" by Kool and the Gang, "Back in the USSR" by the Beatles, and "Rainy Day Women 12 and 35" by Dylan...

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

8-3:30pm

I was up at 6.40am, checked emails, showered, and left Chick F in bed to go to work at Studentenwerk. I had to teach some beginners. We spoke about dinner last night, plans for the Pentacost week and then we learned the present perfect. I'm guessing many of you don't know about what that is exactly but basically it's the "have + 3rd form aka past participle", like: I HAVE WORKED there for 5 years, I HAVE RIDDEN a motorcycle before" and so on but the problem is that in German "Ich habe gearbeitet" (I have worked) is clearly the past tense for them, it's over, you don't work there anymore. So it's difficult to try and get them to not think in German when practicing but it's tough.

My second class was with 2 lawyers. We read an article from the LA Times from December, the former chief prosecutor of the military commissions at Guatanamo Bay. He resigned his position because of the many improprieties he said the government's political appointees have been involved with. He could not, in good conscience, continue his job. There were many new words that the laywers learned: rigged, quagmire, intermingling, etc.

I made some photocopies for my classes tomorrow, picked up 100euros worth of photographs, some of which I am taking to Romania and planning to do a spontaneous exhibition somewhere. I finished grading the rest of the exams (it turns out that the two missing exams aren't missing at all, the students didn't take the exam, phew), went jogging and had some mushroom soup for late lunch and now I'm here listening to the Howard Stern show.

A friend from Estonia is coming tonight. I haven't seen him in 3+ years. I first met him in Tallinn, he was the first couchsurfer that I'd really ever hung out with, getting somewhat crazy with him 3 nights in Tallinn, including hearing a local band play "Sweet Home California" for me around 2am one night.

I have a teacher dinner tonight at 7.30pm and then I'll see him tonight. He's gonna crash at my place tonight. I have to work 10:15-7:30pm tomorrow and then I'm gonna chill out before getting up at 6:30am to start my journey to Dortmund where my flight for Bucarest leaves from.

Cheers...

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

2 probably care...

I got some exams yesterday to grade from a school down by the Swiss border. I have graded 22 of the 29 exams so far and I was trying to figure out how many I have left when I could only find 5 exams. 2 exams are missing. I didn't lose them (as far as I know) and possibly the students were sick the day of the exam but normally the school crosses out the matriculation numbers of the students who didn't take the exam. There were no numbers crossed out. I looked high and low and they are not there. Please "god", either let the exams turn up or let me find them or find out that the students didn't take the exam.

I'm exhausted and grumpy. I went to put a picture in the bathroom this evening and it tipped over and knocked all kinds of my stuff in the toilet, like my floss, my hair trimmer, toilet paper and it also knocked a plant over and dirt went all over the bathroom floor. I got the wonderful opportunity of cleaning dirt off the bathroom floor. I need to wash the dishes. I have to get up at 7am again. Chick F's at Spanish class and is coming over afterwards. I'm listening to Howard Stern interview Steve Gutenberg and they're talking about Steve's 10-inch penis. It's funny because he just said his mom is probably listening and Steve's talking about having his ass licked by Miss California when he was 19. I know, what's the point of this blog post and I guess the answer to that is because I exist. Therefore I blog. Who knows, maybe one of ya out there is glad to read such a thing...

Monday, May 05, 2008

miscellaneous

Today is Mooney's birthday, the crazy bastard! The only friend to have visited me twice (except for Corrie and my parents), I hope he has a great day.

I was sort of awake at 5.23am this morning when I didn't have to get up until 6.40am. No me gusta!

A student today got a little pissy when I was telling them what was on the exam because I had earlier told them there was more on the exam than there really was. Sorry! ...

I've changed around the photos/decorations in my room. The furniture is in the same place but I have a closet now, thanks to...

Caro finally moved out yesterday. She and I had lived together on and off for more than 5 years. She was the ex's roommate when I first came to Germany. We had a lot of great times, including visiting her in Salamanca and another trip to Andalucia and to Italy and lots of parties and stuff here. The past year and a half since South America had been bumpy but I wish her the best and will probably see her again sometime somewhere...

I'm going to take work more seriously. I'm not sure exactly what that entails yet but it means more preparation, better correcting and I'm not sure, as I said. But I've got 29 exams to grade and I already hate it! hahaha I did get 11 done today which is good, but I'll have to grade another 55 exams in June and another 50 in July for one school and another 20 in July for the university.

I've got a host for my first nights in Romania. He was my backup plan but I haven't been able to find anyone else yet. He said his kitchen is under repair and I'm not allowed to complain about it. Little does he know how much I've couchsurfed and it's going to take a miracle for me to complain about anything about him or his flat unless he (and this is what I wrote in the email) kills me, or takes my backpack or says something bad about my mom! Should be okay. It's going to be my first photography-first trip since last Pentacost when I was in Montenegro for 10 days. I just haven't been so creative the past year and I want to get into it again. I'm hoping to take 10+ rolls in 11 days...

Well, that's enough for today...

Friday, May 02, 2008

Random

If you set your Ipod or mp3 player to random, tell us what the first 10 songs that came up are... here are mine!
1)”Go On” - Jack Johnson/ Sleep Through the Static
2)”Sun Surrounds Me” - Beachwood Sparks/ Once We Were Trees
3)”Come Pick Me Up” - Ryan Adams/ Heartbreaker
4)”Ain’t So Lonely” - Lucero/ Tennessee
5)”Breakerfall” - Pearl Jam/ Breakerfall
6)”Batter of Evermore” - Led Zeppelin/ Zeppelin IV
7)”Come Candela(live)” - Mongo Santamaria/ Afro Blue
8)”Solitaire” - Jesse Malin/ Fine Art of Self-Destruction
9)”Smackwater Jack” -Carole King/ Tapestry
10)”Be the One” - Little Barrie / We Are Little Barrie

Thursday, May 01, 2008

May 1

I was out with 6 other English teachers last night from 7-12 last night and boy did we tie one on. It had been years since we'd all hung out and it was a great time. 9 pitchers for 7 people and apparently 3 of them stayed until 2am even!

Today is a holiday. I didn't have to work today and that's best for everyone involved. I went into the city, had some chili cheese poppers with Chick F, then chilled at Augustiner Platz for an hour and read and then a buddy came by and talked about a project he's working on called global generation. I'm going to contribute some photos, writing, clothing and who knows what else.

I came home, half asleep, ate a pizza and now Germany's Next Top Model is starting and I'm going to watch with my 2 chick roommates. I want to take it easy tonight because last night, as a I said was a successful mission.

Speaking of successful missions, today is exactly 5 years since Bush was on a aircraft carrier declaring "major combat operations in Iraq have been" concluded and "America and her allies have prevailed". They tried to say that now that that banner was meant for that particular ship because THEIR mission was over. Well apparently not. The USS Abraham Lincoln is on its way to the Persian Gulf. Fantastic...