Traveling Alone

Traveling alone is always interesting.  It's daunting, liberating, lonely, peaceful, and introspective.  One of my favorite things about it though is the people you meet.  When you travel with a companion, you more often than not end up using them as a crutch in awkward situations, which often leads to avoiding interaction with others and being more critical of the culture you're in.  It's an easy trap to fall into.  However, when alone, you are forced to confront every situation on your own.  I can last usually about four solid days on my own with little interaction with others...more as an observer. My eight days in Istanbul was the perfect balance of alone and shared time.  I met the best people.

My colleagues had put me in contact with their friends who:
  1. Zuhat took me out to lunch at the most beautiful terrace cafe I've ever been to;
  2. Alperen took me to Prince's Island where we met up with his friends, played football, climbed to the top of a mini mountain (ok, it was a large hill) and watched the sun set over the Sea of Marmara, ate ice cream, and talked about love on the banks of the Bosphorus.  
Does it get much better than that?  Fuck.

I met a very kind Brazilian who shared a room with me at the hostel.  He was traveling t to 15 heavy metal festivals around the world.  We had nothing in common, but the love of travel.  And we spent a great day wandering around Dohmbace Palace and talking the badass factor of being a sultan.  I don't remember his name now; but we shared a good day.

That same night the two of us invited our third roommate out to dinner.  Stefan Scheiderbauer was an engineer from Koln, Germany.  He's also an amazing photographer.  We stayed up until five in the morning that night, just the two of us, talking about art and war and personal expectations.

I woke up the next morning hung over only to find out my flight to Athens had been delayed because of the riots.  So, the two of us paid about $1.50 for a three-hour ferry ride up the Bosphorus, bought socks together, and drank two beers on the steps to some parking lot while we watched Africans sell shit from suitcases (more to come on that in another post).  It was a pleasant day spent with a like-minded person.  Though we didn't do anything in particular, it was one of the more stand-out days of my trip.

A few days later Stefan sent me some of the photos he took our last days in Instanbul (see below) with the following message:

"The guy with the gun passed my way a few minutes after you left and guess what: HE WAS SELLING SHIT!! :-)

Was great fun hanging out with you in Istanbul.  Good to know that there are girls left who are drinking beer in public.  If one of your journeys leads you to Germany one day - let me know."

I guess traveling alone doesn't necessarily mean exactly that.  And this is why I love to travel "alone".


Ups and Downs of Ukraine

I went back to Ukraine this summer to do research for my master's thesis.  I won some grant to do this (it was all a big guise to get a free trip back to see some of my friends).

Over the past two and a half years my heart had became weak for Ukraine.  Nostalgia had made me forget about all the things I hate about the country--the smells, the corruption, the clothes, the trains, the dirty looks I get, the Russian pop music, etc.  With all this suppressed deep down in my memory, I was really, really looking forward to going back, eating some sunflowers seeds, shooting the shit over a couple liters of vodka, and doing some research in the field (yeah, I'm a nerd).

However, all this excitement quickly faded before I even got to Ukraine...before I even left the airport in Thessaloniki.  I'm sure it doesn't come as a big surprise that not many people go to Ukraine, and few Ukrainians actually are able to get visas out of the country.  

Here's how Ukraine quickly let me down while we were about to go up and brought me back up again as we were going down.

Series of annoyances:
  1. They are the ONLY ones to cut in the customs/passport lines; and you can always identify them because they are wearing the most blinged-out white jeans, and "Dollcce & Gabana" shirts.
  2. The twenty or so that waited with me to board the flight were getting wasted on the duty-free liquor they had just bought.  Who else does this?  Who shoots cognac?
  3. They are the only ones to not sit in their assigned seat on an airplane.  This behavior is supported by the flight attendants (Ukrainian airline), which then creates complete chaos as people board because some INSIST on sitting in their assigned seat, while those in this person's assigned seat refuses to move (most people are already drunk at this point adding to the madness).  It's insanity.
  4. My flight was direct to Kyiv...or so I thought.  My plane actually became an air marshrutka.  Because the plane was not filled (due to few Ukrainians leaving, and few wanting to go to Ukraine), this "direct" plane made a stop in Sofia, Bulgaria and Bucharest, Romania.  This in turn put my arrival 6 hours behind schedule.
Yet I still love the country, it's like your first love--despite everything, you'll always have a soft spot for the fucker.

Though my excitement faded before I touched ground, it was redeemed when just before landing everyone started yelling, "давай, давай, давай" (which roughly translates to: fucking please, come on and land, come on, come on) and upon landing...as the wheels of the plane touched ground, the Ukrainians started cheering and clapping (to me, we still were not in the clear because the plane was still jumping all over the runway).  However, their excitement made me excited again.  


It's a cruel, cruel world

Welcome to my life for 31 seconds: A soundscape

Step 1: turn your volume up to 11.

Step 2: Click on this link

Step 3: Hit play on "Kiss Make Out Tongue Sloppy".

Step 4: Put your dick in the box. Wait. No. That's something else.

This is what I hear every night before I go to bed. In fact, I can even here it while I'm upstairs and they're downstairs with the door closed!

I vomit in my mouth a little bit every time.


I used to live near Chernobyl.

They warned us not to eat the berries or the mushrooms in Ukraine. I didn't listen to them. The only effect I ever noticed was persistent light-headedness. This could have been a result of me consuming radiation or the copious amount of vodka I drank. I'm still not sure. Regardless, those Soviets fucked up bad with Chernobyl. Check this out: http://xkcd.com/radiation/ Really interesting perspective.

I've also come across this interesting video, which also puts it all in perspective, but in a totally new way. It's long, primitive, but informative.


Dear Rick Snyder: you're a fucker.

Dear Rick Snyder,

I know it may seem like you just won an important victory, but I have a message for you from my good friend Woody Guthrie.


Erykah Badu- That Hump

Happy Hump Day!

B!tchly Bizness-Limousine Slippers

Detroit deliciousness.

Listen to the full track here and get a free download.

"some shit you can't even pronounce." Hell yeah!


Open insert here.

I got fixed up on a blind date. My roommates are on a mission to find me a man. In fact, they seem to be more concerned about it than me.

The connection: My roommate's trainer, Benito (who I've met once when we were looking at apartments together) has another client who has a roommate, Anton. I was to go for drink with Anton.

It was a stretch, yes.

Of course, the first thing I did when I found out his name was Google that shit (like you don't). He seemed interesting enough.

So we went to this cute neighborhood Polish restaurant for drinks. I thought it went well. He was a fox and quite nice. But as I was getting out of his car, I knew I wasn't going to get a call back though.

I had insulted probably the three most important dimensions of his identity. (It's kind of laughable actually.)

a) He is from L.A.: Before I knew this, I was talking about how so many people from LA whom I've met have been assholes.

b) He's a lawyer: nuff said. I live with, work with, and previously dated a lawyer. I didn't have too many kind words.

c) He's half Mexican: I referred to my old truck as a Mexican Lesbian (or is it Lesbian Mexican) car.

I attacked his home turf, his profession, and his blood.

Win some and loose some, I guess.


Deal Breakers

So I realized while looking over my last few posts that this has turned into a blog about my love turmoil. Gross.

So I'll indulge you on a recent relationship(?) fiasco.

I've since learned that I have quite a few deal breakers.

I was dating this Nigerian anesthesiologist from Baltimore. Weird, I know. He was alright; not too needy, smart, blah blah. (I later realized there was much more blah than I wanted).

I went up there on a Sunday afternoon to spend the day with him. Here are where the deal breakers enter...in sequence of events:
a) he was super late picking me up from the train station and he didn't call.
*if you're going to be late, just call. It's rude to keep a girl waiting, or anyone really.

b) I got there late afternoon and we didn't eat dinner. I mentioned that I was hungry and he told me to order some food.
*if I travel to meet you, buy me fucking dinner--especially if you're a mothafucking doctor.

c) We started to watch a movie. He asked me what I wanted to watch and I made several suggestions. He finally decided on some stupid science fiction, straight-to-DVD bullshit.
*If you ask ME what movie I want to watch, listen to my suggestions. Particularly when I specifically say, "anything but sci-fi.
p.s. We ended up watching CSPAN.

d) He answered his phone TWICE while we were having sex.
*FUCK YOU. Don't ever do this, unless someone has died, you've just gotten a call from
Supermarket Sweeps, or...nope. FUCK YOU.

e) He went to drop me off at the train station in the morning. No kidding he stopped ON the tracks and waited for me to get out. I simply said, "Are you really dropping me off ON the tracks? (rhetorical question) Could you please pull up to the curb?"
*Men, don't drop a woman off ON the train tracks.

Needless to say, it didn't work out.

For a further list of deal breakers please see: vegan, neck tattoos, and cat owner.

A stupid biblical reference

Just had a three-hour conversation with my only "real" ex-boyfriend. While we only talk once every six months, it's always somewhat refreshing to talk to him. He somehow makes me feel good about myself because a) he compliments me and b) I feel I am a better person than him. I know this second reason is selfish, but I don't care.

We had a terrible break up, mostly from my perspective because I got my heart broken. Bad. And I found out tonight that one of the girls who he cheated on me with was a stripper--who he got pregnant.

Now I knew most of the hour-long "truth" story he decided to tell me tonight; I was able to piece together a lot of it over the past 5 years, but the pieces that I never knew were a) she was a stripper and b) she was pregnant. That's some serious shit.

Forgive. Forget. It's kind of all bullshit. What I realized was that my heart took a long time to heal, but it's healed. And really, it's a fucked up story regardless of the details. I don't care about him enough to care either way. And that feels good.

He hoped that the truth would set him free and make me fall in love with him again. The thing is, sometimes the truth shall NOT set you free. And...I don't believe in that "fall in/out of love" rhetoric.

It feels great to know that some things don't matter to me anymore. Or people for that matter; and that truth sets me free.


I've known a few of these...

Of the genius waitress, I now sing.

Of hidden knowledge, buried ambition, and secret
sonnets scribbled on cocktail napkins; of aching
arches, ranting cooks, condescending patrons, and eyes
diverted from ancient Greece to ancient grease; of
burns and pinches and savvy and spunk; of a uniquely
American woman living a uniquely American compromise,
I sing. I sing of the genius waitress.

Okay, okay, she's probably not really a genius. But
she is well-educated. She has a degree in Sanskrit,
ethnoastronomy, Icelandic musicology, or something
equally valued in contemporary marketplace. Even if
she could find work in her chosen field, it wouldn't
pay beans--so she slings them instead. (The genius
waitress is not to be confused with the
aspiring-actress waitress, so prevalent in Manhattan
and Los Angeles and so different from her sister in
temperament and I.Q.)

As a type, the genius waitress is sweet and sassy,
funny and smart; young, underestimated, fatalistic,
weary, cheery (not happy, cheerful: there's a
difference and she understands it), a tad bohemian,
often borderline alcoholic, frequently pretty (though
her hair reeks of kitchen and bar); as independent as
a cave bear (though ever hopeful of "true love") and,
above all, genuine.

Covertly sentimental, she fusses over toddlers and old
folks, yet only fear of unemployment prevents her from
handing an obnoxious customer his testicles with his

She doesn't mind a little good-natured flirting, and
if you flirt with verve and wit, she may flirt back.
Never, however, never try to impress her with your
resume. Her tolerance for pretentious Yuppies ends
with her shift, sometimes earlier. She reads men like
 a menu and always knows when she's being offered
 leftovers or an artificially inflated soufflé.

Should you ever be lucky enough to be taken home by
her to that studio apartment with the jerry-built
bookshelves and Frida Kahlo posters, you will discover
that whereas in the public dining room she is merely
as proficient as she needs to be, in the private
bedroom she is blue gourmet virtuoso. Five stars and
counting! Afterward, you can discuss chaos theory or
the triple aspects of the mother goddess in universal
art forms--while you massage her swollen feet.

Eventually, she leaves food service for graduate
school or marriage; but unless she wins a grant or a
fair divorce settlement, chances are she'll be back, a
few years down the line, reciting the daily specials
with her own special mixture of warmth and ennui.

Erudite emissary of eggs over easy, polymath purveyor
of polenta and prawns, articulate angel of apple pie,
the genius waitress is on duty right now in hundreds
of U.S. restaurants, smile at the ready, sauce on the
 side. So brush up on your Schopenhauer, place your
order--and tip, mister, tip. She deserves a break

Of her, I sing. 

-Tom Robbins
Playboy, 1991


A couple decades ago there was a teacher named Shree Bhagwan Rajneesh, or rather this is what he called himself--kind of like in Spanish how they say, "Me llamo Shree Bhagwan Rahneesh."  Anyway, this guy came up with with the name "Zorba the Buddha" to describe the ideal modern man.  I would like to find a Zorba the Buddha:

A contemplative man who maintains a strict devotional bond with cosmic energies, yet is completely at home in the physical realm.  This kind of man will inadvertently know the value of the dharma and the dollar, know how much to tip a waiter in a Paris discoteque and how many times to bow in a Kyoto shrine.  He can do business when business is necessary, yet allow his mind to enter an acorn or his feet to dance in wild abandon if moved by a tune.  He will refuse to turn his back on beauty, and finds in sensual pleasures not a contradiction but an affirmation of the spiritual self.

Give me my Zorba the Buddha...or my Zorba the Greek.


Things I've Thought About Over The Past Month

1)  Is it just me, or do high school girls get sluttier and sluttier each year?
      a)  Grunge was not sexy.

2)  That millisecond when you think your chair is going to fall from leaning back on it too far is really very scary.

3)   I hate leaving the house knowing that I look good and then not seeing anyone all day.  What a waste.

4)  When I meet a new guy, I'm scarred of mentioning something that he hasn't told me, but was found by light internet investigation.  (you do it too!)

5)  Isn't Planned Parenthood inappropriately named?  Shouldn't it be called Unplanned Parenthood?

6)  I can't remember the last time I wasn't a little bit tired.

7)  Mapquest doesn't really need to explain to me how to get out of my subdivision.  I got that down.

8)  I actually look forward to a red light when I need to finish a text.

9)  Sometimes I watch a movie that I really liked as a child, and realize I had no idea what the fuck was going on.

10)  Morbid, but true: obituaries would be more fun to read if it told how the individual died.


Love Vigilantes

This is pure beauty.

Old Timey

I was such a young fogy that growing up for me has involved becoming less mature.

I think this is funny.  Somewhere in my mid-twenties I outgrew existentialism and discovered fun.  I just hope this doesn't make me seem like a rube in D.C. because quite frankly the thing I'm most worried about about moving to D.C. is whether I'll fit in or not.

But then I have to remind myself that life is about an emotional connection to people and things and it doesn't matter where you are on the globe.

A pointless endeavor

I've come to appreciate, to depend on, two dumb little passions--my painting and this blog, which both don't have any point at all. And that for me, is the point. My life is, and will continually be, full of points--deadlines, bills, recycling, emails and phone calls. Every time I finish a painting and put my initials in the lower, right-hand corner or hit the publish button, I find a little bit of happiness.

on the pResiDENcy

I'm not going to give my opinion on Barack Obama, but I am going to share Sarah Vowell's opinion on the qualities a president should possess.   I totally agree with her.

"I wish that in order to secure his party's nomination, a presidential candidate would be required to point at the sky and name all the stars; have the periodic table of the elements memorized; rattle off the kings and queens of Spain; define the significance of the Gatling gun; joke around in Latin; interpret the symbolism in seventeenth-century Dutch painting; explain photosynthesis to a six-year-old; recite Emily Dickinson; bake a perfect popover; build a shortwave radio out of a coconut; and know all the words to Hoagy Carmichael's  'Two Sleepy People,' Johnny Cash's 'Five Feet High and Rising,' and 'You Got the Silver' by the Rolling Stones.  After all, the United States is the greatest country on the earth dealing with the most complicated problems of the world--poverty, pollution, justice, Jerusalem.  What we need is a president who is at least twelve kinds of nerd, a nerd messiah to come along every four years, acquire the Secret Service code name Poindexter, install a Revenge of the Nerds screen saver on the Oval Office Computer, and one by one decrypt our woes."

Wouldn't that be nice?

Corruption at the Plant

Ok, so maybe Thomas Paine wasn't talking about working at an assembly plant when he said, "These are the times that try men's souls.", but I've recently become aware of the truth of these words.  My soul was truly compromised.

A little piece of me died as I filed burrs, drilled holes, and visually inspected those Ford chassis in 30 degree weather.  My whole lifestyle changed--I became a true woman of the night.  I'm not saying that I was better than the plant (ok, maybe a little), but what really killed me was the amount of corruption and waste that was entailed in my job.  I felt like a real Soviet.

Here's the basis of the job: I was hired by a contract company for Magna (the biggest automotive supplier). This company was to represent Magna in quality control.  Apparently the frames that I was checking had metal burrs on the end of the bumper brackets that were cutting the union workers hands.  There were also holes that weren't drilled at the proper angle, so the intended bolts for these holes did not lay flesh with the chassis.  Fair enough.  Sike!

What I slowly realized was that the union worker who supposedly cut himself on one of these burrs was actually looking for some whiskey so he falsely claimed that he injured himself.  In fact, he never once had to touch the chassis because he has a machine to assist in the lifting and attachment of this part.  Basically, I was wasting my time for some good ole' corruption.  How this works is like this: he claims to have hurt himself and report the problem to quality at Ford, who then calls Magna to tell them this mistake is going to cost them, so Magna hires me to check the frames so they don't loose money in any more accidents.  However, the guy won't go to quality if he gets some whiskey.  Same tune, different verse for all the other issues.

My last week I was in charge of inspecting for extra slag on the welding because some woman snagged her $100 Detroit Tiger's jersey.  Dude...you fucking make cars!  Don't wear that kind of shit to a factory job, I'm sorry.  So yeah, I made good money, but it was all such a waste of resources, time, and money.  So much bureaucracy and abuse of power by the UAW it made me sick.

On top of all this, my boss's car got keyed by union workers for driving a foreign car.  My car was fortunately (or unfortunately) got bypassed.  It did get towed, which was a whole other debacle.  Then my boss stopped showing up, instead opting for the bar/strip club and coming back and ganging up on me with other "men".  I've never been so demeaned in my whole life.  Not cool.  I could go on and on.  I won't.

I just had to keep reminding myself that it was a means to an end and an opportunity to learn about a very Detroit culture.

I find it ironic that Paine's words come from a pamphlet entitled "The American Crisis" that was written while the Revolution was floundering, especially considering where we stand as a nation today.  His words inspired soldiers and civilians alike to buck up and endure war so that someday "not a place upon earth might be so happy as America."  And now we use consumerism as patriotism.  Buy American!  Built Ford Tough!