Monthly Archives: May 2011

i’m home, it’s weird


who knew? well of course it’s always strange coming home after being away for a while. everything looks so different. my apartment, where i have lived for years, looks as unfamiliar as a hostel. the refrigerator looks different, the hallway. my boyfriend shaved his beard off so he looks different, like a young scratchyface stranger and not the sweetheart i left. my neighborhood looks different. i know that it’s mostly that i am seeing things with new eyes.

jill & i had a magnificent last night of travelling. paris. vibrant color & sound & art. a city so obsessed with beauty that even the subway entrances are magnificent works of art. even the bums are glamorous. even city hall is amazing.i don’t want to write about it indepth here though. maybe i’ll make another zine? not all about travelling, of course. about lots of things. my last issue (still available, if you want it!) was such a bummer i’m almost ashamed to give it to people.

i have pictures up on my flickr if anyone is interested.


+being able to communicate with pretty much anyone i see

+big comfortable bed.


+re-united with my bike

+have more clothes to choose from than one pair of pants & one dress & 2 tshirts & one pair of stripey long johns

+feel less frumpy (everyone in europe is SO attractive and well-put-together. i have my own distinct deliberate style but i feel like in europe it just comes across that i’m clueless. which i KIND OF am but not THAT clueless)

+not having to carry all of my possessions on my back

+not having to constantly worry that i’ve lost my passport (i never even came close, but i am paranoid)

+checking my bank account and realizing that i only spent like $700 the whole time i was there! so i bought myself a soy milk maker on the internet, just now. f you, silk!


-not surrounded by beautiful things everywhere i go

—–WATER INEFFICIENT TOILETS. one of my pet peeves! euro toilets were SO water efficient and i didn’t see a single auto-flush (WORST invention ever) the whole time i was there!

-my boyfriend’s face is super prickly thanks to the aforementioned beard shaving

-we now have a feral cat and three kittens living in the basement

-screamy children, barky dogs

-still have the hacking cough i picked up in poland

-america is stupid!

-i miss my sister!

-i didn’t get a layoff notice in the mail from my job, which i was expecting. i was fully anticipating only having one more week left and then being able to apply for unemployment, but the date of our layoff has been pushed back several times already. since i didn’t get a notice, i’m assuming it’s been changed in my absence and i’ll be there for a lot longer. BOO!

-i miss europe! esp. paris & lithuania

-my life ahead has a pall of, “okay, what the fuck am i gonna do now?”

more ginger tea in another lithuanian hostel


hello! we came to kaunas, mostly because we’re flying to paris today and wanted to be closer to the airport. we thought kaunas would be kind of a blah ending to our trip, but it was actually one of the most fun and crazy nights. we saw “the kids are all right” at the mall (subtitled in lithuanian) which SUCKED but it was kind of funny to be watching a movie at the mall in lithuania. i don’t know. and then we wound up going to the karaoke bar with a bunch of hyper finnish peeps and watched a bunch of lithuanian undergrads totally freak out to that song “save tonight” by eagle eye cherry. like, who knew? i have to go now, but i wanted to record this for posterity.

ginger tea in a lithuanian hostel


wow, we’re almost done. we’re almost home. got discouraged in krakow, and then on my last morning there i woke up sick. we took the train to warzawa (i’m not trying to be pretentious, i just think that’s prettier than the american name). everyone at the hostel said warzawa sucks. we thought they were just being uncreative. but they were right! it does suck! we had such a bad time that we literally went to the bus station 3 hours early, just to get off the scary crowded streets. warzawa, i chose sitting in your sketchy-ass bus station over exploring you! take that.

the bus to lithuania was kinda scary because the driver was driving manically and, of course, we had no idea what was going on because everyone was speaking lithuanian or polish. but we made it. got dropped off at 6:30AM and took a cab to our hostel, only to find it locked and nobody answering our doorbell, even though it supposedly had 24 hour service. d’oh! it was also gray and at least 20 degrees colder than poland. we were SO disgruntled and pretty much ready to just go home. but, eventually, we were let into the hostel. had a good nap and by that time the sun was shining again and things didn’t seem so bad.

so, lithuania! wow! vilnius is really quirky and fun. we’ve had a lot of fun strange adventures, including getting caught up in a semi-spontaneous swing-dancing dance-off (wow, that’s a lot of hyphens), getting drunk at a hipster bar where everyone else was playing charades, and all these other fun and/or odd things i can’t really think about. my sister wrote something about this adventure in lith that says a lot of things that i feel, too. for some reason i can’t hyperlink it on this computer, but here’s the link if anyone’s interested:

oh, today i found a tattered copy of “newsweek” from last summer at the hostel and i DEVOURED it. and i LOVED it. it was so satisfying!  i would never read newsweek at home! but out here, it becomes so meaningful. it’s the little things, i guess.



dzien dobry from krakow, poland! yesterday was a long long train ride, ten hours through the polish countryside. lots of huge backyard gardens tended by old women, crumbling old train stations in the middle of giant fields. it was a good train ride in that it went quickly. kinda melancholy, though, as both my sister & i were like, “OMG, what are we doing?” leaving berlin was hard. beautiful city full of weirdos & possible past-life memories. the playgrounds are all handmade and DIY looking. the subway runs on the freakin’ honor system! and so many bikes, everywhere, oh my gawd. that’s all i wanted to do, but my dad has sciatica so he can’t, and i felt bad going without him.

today my sister & i rode on a bike path that goes all the way to vienna. obviously we didn’t go that far, just followed the river out of the city, into depressing big-box suburbs and then to a park full of the biggest, most untamed dandelions ever. and now we are at an internet cafe, where my email password will not work at all. i fear it’s been hacked, and i’m really upset right now, i was counting on opening up an inbox full of sweet love from home, really counting on it on this day where i feel so far away. plus, oh, our boarding passes from lithuania to paris are only in that email, meaning that if i don’t open it we might not be able to get home….or, rather, it will be way harder.

but it’s okay, this is the cliche backpacker glitch. i’ll figure something out, right? right? today i had the delightful thought, “if i were in america it would be 6:30 am and i would be stirring restlessly in my bed, waiting for the alarm to go off so i could go to work. and instead i am in poland, riding a bike through a field of flowers…” it was nice.

i feel like when i am traveling i kind of only post when i am having a bad day and not too into what’s going on around me. on good days i just don’t have the time. hence, not really posting much in berlin, where i had a beautiful time in that strange city full of squatters & perverts. jill & i saw the forgetters at some punk bar, after stealing some water from the ramones museum! that was fun. also wandering through the tiergarten, a beautiful magical park that has the memorial for queer victims of the holocaust, right there on the tourist map for everyone to see. i loved it.

oh berlin, your heart has been drawn & quartered again…


hallo from berlin! wow. i never thought i’d type that sentence. so strange, that this city has been here all along, but in 29 years i never gave much thought to it, and now that i’m here i know i will always miss it in my bones. just one day, not even. we steamrolled in here at 10 AM, after a tossing-and-turning night in which 8 people (6 adults and 2 toddlers) slept, or attempted to sleep, in a 7′ by 7′ foot train compartment. i still feel like i’m on the train when i sit down, still feel the shifting of the ground even though it’s not actually shifting at all.

i have slept 5 hours of the last 50, no exaggeration, so if i type anything that sounds especially stupid it is the sleep dep talking for sure. where to even begin. my brain wants sleep so that’s all i can think about. the last time i genuinely slept was wednesday morning, when i woke up to a cute boy and a gray day in pittsburgh, in a life that seems so impossible now, and so impossible that it was mine. another quadrant of the globe. less than three days ago. and i’m so far away, so far far far away from that….

first paris, tired tired tired but so bright & vibrant that i couldn’t help but be inspired, so packed with beautiful people and things. paris in a whirlwind, paris in fourteen hours because that was all the time i had, between my plane landing and our train to berlin leaving. my sister’s been in france for almost a year  now, teaching english, and my dad & brother came out here five days ago, and now the four of us are together, hurtling towards something that is much bigger than all of us. this trip was supposed to be just me & the sibs, but our dad crashed it, kinda. he is  not the kind of guy who likes to travel or cares about culture beyond american TV & radio hits. maybe he knows something we don’t? traveling with him has had a lot of ups & downs. he’s very funny & charming, good at meeting people. but he is a tourist, in every sense of the word, not understanding no matter how many times we tell him that talking english loudly to people who don’t understand english is not going to get him anywhere. he doesn’t want to do anything besides the most tourist-trap things, expensive and full of mean-spirited grumps from other places, and doesn’t understand why we want to do other things, interact with the city on a more intense level. and i hadn’t realized how much his health is failing until now. so i am trying to treasure this interaction with him, because i know when he is gone i will think of it a lot. and whether that’s in one year or twenty, it’s important.

anyway. the four of us + a sweet, interesting frenchman we met on the train, drinking polish vodka with room-temperature coke in the tiny berth & sharing stories as france whizzes by in the dusk. my dad said, “i’m always gonna remember this,” to me, when no one else was paying attention. it was a nice moment. i think i always will, too.

but, berlin! berlin! we are here. so many bikes & so much graffiti. so overwhelming, being in a country where you can’t speak the language at all, or even come close to deciphering. ( and it’s gonna get worse–my sister & i are going to poland & lithuania next week, after the dudes in our family fly home! eek, what were we thinking?) it’s teaching me so much, about how to learn to be in the world without language. language is so important to me, but so is being pushed outta my comfort zone. sure hope that sign wasn’t too important, sure hope that “danke schon!” was the correct thing to say to that cashier. just smile! smile, because i’m here and not there, and here is scary and frustrating for sure, but also so amazing, i mean, i never thought i’d really get here.