Tuesday, March 08, 2005


[Note: This Europe log begins on the date of May 22, 2002, found farther down the page at the post dated 2.24.05.]
May 29, 2002

[7:08 am]

Went to sleep last night pretty early, somewhere around ten o’clock. I was not in a very good mood. At midnight I woke up with a terrible headache, got up and took some aspirin. Advil. Three. With tap water. Lay back down. The mattresses here at West End are easily the worst we’ve come across thus far on our trip. They seem to have springs in them and not much else. I couldn’t get to sleep right away because my head was hurting, I wasn’t comfortable, and my right nostril wasn’t drawing any air. So I got up again and went into the bathroom and took an allergy pill. At 7:06 am, when I woke up this morning, the headache was mostly gone and my nasal passages are as clear as the sky out the window. Halcyon even. Maybe I can even see some mountains in the distance. Em is sleeping.

Anyway, my dream. Main thread. Al Qaeda attacks Belleville, Illinois. Planes fall from out of the sky, spinning in tight circles as they neared the earth. One hit maybe a water tower because me and (who else was it: Taylor? Ryan Klesko?) somebody was at one point running for higher ground and I started “running” on my hands because I wasn’t fast enough on my feet. Al Qaeda had earlier sent a burning van into some building that had a lot of gasoline in it. Everyone was mad at an apartment landlord because supposedly he had let Al Qaeda guys stay there. Don’t know if he was “with them” or just dim-witted.

The with-them theme became prevalent in the main body of this particular thread of last night’s dreaming. Sorry to say that there was more, much more, throat slashing. The fortunate thing was that my friends from this reality were all on my side—the same side as me—during the dream. Ray, Phil Williams, Nick Adams, Taylor, maybe even Ryan Davinroy. But a bunch of other Americans had apparently gone over to the Al Qaeda side and were prepared to kill us in the anarchic hand-to-hand combat if we didn’t kill them. My knife was the same one I bought at the Belleville Fairgrounds gun show years ago with Ray and Paul L. It was nice and sharp to start out with and I was slashing a lot of throats. But eventually it became dull and even ineffective. Phil W showed up around this point—I want to say his girlfriend Emily was with him—and he had one of those knives that folds up into a harmless holed metal rectangle cube. So he did a bit of slashing and stabbing for a while. At some point I got somebody else’s knife but by this point it wasn’t clear that the people we killed had really died. And it seemed like there were dopplegangers of some of the people fighting with us. I think we just got tired of knifing each other after a while.

At one point someone had said, “What’s the benefit of using a knife?” There weren’t any guns. And someone replied, either me or Phil, “It doesn’t run out of bullets.”

My nose is stuffing up again. But I’d rather sit & write in snotty silence than blow it & get Emily out of bed. Hope today goes well on that front, otherwise I’m going to need some serious time to myself. [7:28 am]

The shops yesterday in Munich weren’t all that great. I wanted to go into a record shop and Emily said, “What? Do you even own a record player?” No. Well, then you’re not looking at records. I almost said FUCK YOU but I held it back thankfully. Sorry, Ray. Maybe I’ll get there on my own, or find one in Berlin.

We walked through a pretty ritzy shopping area and through there to a place a little less ritzy. We had desserts at a Café Rishcart, a chain I later understood. Language hang-up there when woman helping me said, “Alles?” As in, is that all you want; I thought she was saying something akin to, “For here or to go?” so I was like, “Hier. Hier.” Finally she said in English “Is that all?” And I said yes. She looked a little exasperated because the people ordering before us were at least half American so it’s gotta be at least somewhat awkward working as a German in a German café in Munich trying to speak the assumed language to everyone but having to break down into English. Disheartening? I don’t know. Eventually the whole language barriers won’t be a big deal because one or two languages will prevail, & everyone will know them. That’s already the case with English pretty much. And there seems to be, understandably, a lot of resentment on behalf of the non-native English speakers in response to this. Maybe they are feeling overrun.

The dessert was good anyway, some sort of strawberry & cream croissant with pretty tasty strawberries (though they weren’t amazing). After Hofbrauhaus we went into a big-ass, six-floor Borders-like store. I was looking for a blank book & Em went in too, just cause I wanted to. I went up to the fifth floor, a little silly drunk & got detached from Em. Came all the way back down via stairs and got herded out out of the stairs. Couldn’t find Em. Went back in & found her on third or so floor. She’s like don’t do that again. Do what again? Go running off like that, you went all the way to the top. No I didn’t. So we left there & were looking for some Internet Café, which we both wanted to stop at. We had stopped at one other one that looked pretty lame, a pizzeria that happened to have a computer terminal at each of its tables. We passed on it.

[Alarm goes off #3]

It was difficult finding the other one. I really had to go to the bathroom—Em had gone in Hoffbrau Haus—and since it didn’t look like we were finding it anytime soon I went into a dept. store, down a floor and all the way to the back; it was a grocery store on this floor and looked like a cool place to shop. It was an immaculate piss and would make my all-time Top 100 pisses. Actually, I think that pizzeria was the place we were looking for and from there we decided to visit the one near the airport—I keep calling the train stations the airports—and also get some Nord See fast fish food at some point. We stop at another Brau Haus and Em goes to the bathroom while I wait outside.

We walk a ways to the train station, do some looping around, pass a Nord See on the outside of the station & eventually locate the Internet Café, which is called Times Square. A nice little place actually & I assume I will be back if not today then tomorrow.

(What I just did now—Em’s in the shower—I also did yesterday when I was in the bathroom. What were you doing in there? What do you think I was doing in there? I really had to go last night, but I couldn’t because people were in the room….) [8:01 am]

Anyway, the Internet Café was .5€ for every 5 mins. and I was on about 21 mins., so like 2€ which isn’t bad at all. Definitely go back, get some drinks, coffee. I e-mailed Brook (twice). She is going to be an aunt she said, her sister Jorin is going to have a baby. Good news. So I told her to send my congrats. And one e-mail Brook sent says she was baking so I asked her to tell me about how that turned out. I also e-mailed Nick saying hello. I got an e-mail back from Ray but he was going to write more later and sounded a bit in doldrums maybe because all of his friends (Me, Phil, Carrie) are out of town & others have left (Brent, Nick). Said something about if he didn’t have to come into work he wouldn’t even hear his own voice. And got an e-mail from Jeff U about wanting to hang in Chicago for the weekend but my priority plan –for reunion weekend I mean— is to chill with Eric Peters so I’m gonna have to get back to Jeff on that one. It’d be fine but I’m afraid that travelling or vacationing with Jeff would be not that much different than vacationing w/ Em but we’ll see. Otherwise I checked world news and sports news. The Chandra Levy case takes a turn, which Em got all excited about: they are sure the body they found in Rock Creek Park is hers.

After Internet we went to Nord See—not the one in the station. Then we came back through the station—Viennetta—and walked home. Em is done with her shower. Then it’s my turn & then some breakfast. [8:13 am]

[9:44 am]

On S-Bahn S-2 going to Dachau. Skies got cloudy. Elderly man across aisle sipping on a Lowenbrau. Emily didn’t bring her water. L aim. To travel we’re using our 17.50€ all-zones, all modes of transport pass—purchased at EurAide Reiseburo. It was possible to use EuRail pass for this trip but it would count as a day so we didn’t. Through an area of nice little homes with gardens. Obermenzing. Elderly man switches seats. Maybe he saw me looking at him.

Slight problem: our superpass is only good for the—

[11:26 am]
Sitting down in 250 max. person theater. About to watch documentary.

[8:51 pm]

Can’t believe how late it stays light here. Got a haircut today and it was a tough, a frustrating and frightening experience. From this, I will say this: there is a lot of resentment for America in the world, and for good reason (though prejudice, racism, and resentment can never be justified—just understood). The man who cut my hair did a decent but not very meticulous job. I knew very little German, he knew very little English. He gave his fellow barber a rolled-eyes look as I sat down in my chair after coming to him & saying, “Sprechen zie English?” He said yes. And I said can I get a haircut. And he just kind of stared at me, well— Fuck this, I don’t want to write about this. It was in the Hauptbonhaf that I got my hair cut by this man. I felt like he gave me a half-assed haircut and it wasn’t like he couldn’t have done a good job just because I didn’t know English. The haircut was 13€.

I paid not him but a woman working at the counter. It’s a workable haircut though I had to come back here and cut off a spot in front that he totally missed. I forgot to fucking tip him. It never even crossed my mind, I was so flustered and just wanting to get back to the hotel & shower. What I have to say is that I stopped in at one other Friseur and spoke in English to a not bad-looking 30-yr. old or so woman who was in her shop alone and asked me if I had a date—she corrected herself gaily—an appt. at 6:00. I didn’t.

She said she was very sorry & she was; she recommended any of 3 shops in the Hbf to me. She was very amiable and there was no gloom for America in her demeanor toward me. So I am generalizing and stereotyping. I am trying to speak from the barber’s shoes w/o knowing anything at all about him. Who knows what it was like, me to come up to him & ask for a haircut. Who the fuck knows what complexities might make me feel better or worse about the situation. One thing though: what about my responsibility here?

To be able to get my haircut in Germany by speaking German. That is my responsibility & I did not uphold it, so shame on me. And I could have said to him, “Ich möchte mir das Haar scheiden lassen, bitte.” Which is in the phrase book & which I knew by memory at the time but because of timidity or/and nervousness I did not say. That would have been a place to start.

It seems to be there are at least two ways to be an ignorant traveler abroad: (a) you can ill-prepare for your trip—not do any research, not learn any of the destination country’s language & not care about it, expecting to get by because the denizens of the host country will know your language, and you cannot give two rusty fucks about the burden that you heap upon the hosts; and/or, (b) you can have at least a little knowledge and/or interest in the host country—its customs, its layout, its offerings, its language—and because of laziness, fear, timidity you can decide not to act on this knowledge of yours in which case you’re just about as pathetic as Traveler A, but not quite.

I fall into both categories. I was not at all prepared for this trip and it has been, for this reason, very stressful. Though I would come to regret it, if I were offered a ticket home right now, I would take it.

But I’m not going anywhere so that’s just an idle thought. I would like to think that for the sake of the world my incursion into the barber shop—friseur—in the UG of the Munchen Hbf is an act that bore no consequences but I know that it did. I, an American, had my haircut today by an aging German who clipped the scissors very briskly and looked glad to be done w/ my cut—13, 14 mins. at most.

Everywhere I have gone & bumbled through the language barrier I have littered inconsideracies that, whether it be just or not, are colored w/ stars & stripes and over time that shit adds up. Just as each plastic bottle that doesn’t get thrown away (let alone recycled)—where is all of this litter going to go? There won’t be enough room for it after a while. Each act has its consequence & the consequence of my haircut today… {it’s fairly dark now, and hurting my eyes to write}. [9:20 pm]

Em is asleep. I’m clinging to last of light. I labelled date incorrectly. I have not been keeping any ToC for this book & it will be a bitch to do at some point. Feel like I can’t afford to spend the time on it right now.

[9:44 pm]
Em is up now and I’ve turned the light on. We’re getting ready to go to Munich Party Zone. A bunch of clubs in an old potato processing plant. I got Em up at 9:30 pm and she thinks I’m jumping the gun a bit. But we’re not real familiar with the area and we haven’t had dinner yet. I munched on a few of Brook’s cookies. They still taste quite fine to me. If I had my fucking tortilla chips from yesterday, now would have been a fine time to eat them.

I also got some shopping done today and I was a little manic throughout the experience, I think—influencing the haircut idea in the first place—because I had no sense of time, I went to the change rooms twice, once with two items (pants, 100% polyester, one black one grey, 15€ each, on sale, Grosse: 102). I have no idea how the sizes are working here. Chance was on my side; those were the first two things I tried on, though I didn’t buy them, & they did fit me right. So grosse 102. I bought one pair grayish-black polyester-like linen fabric. I think 30€, which really isn’t bad. Then I got two dress shirts, one blue stripes, one purple checked. Em likes the purple so that’s what I’m wearing tonight. Bought these three items for a total of 70€ in bargain basement of store called Karstädt. Then went up to 3rd floor Damen and was coming down a bit off my high but still bought a black belt (reversible!) for 15€. Saw a great shirt & would have gotten it but it was short-sleeved. Got out after that & went looking for a haircut. Haven’t shopped like that in maybe 2 years.

Brook’s picture to me today was “DISCO,” a little disco ball that I rather liked. Just looked at it about 30 mins. ago. Noticed that she didn’t close the “o” in Disco so it looked like “DISCU,” and I’m thinking that perhaps the left-open “o” signifies her fear that disco also means me dancing, potentially with savory German divas which I don’t blame her she’d probably rather not think about. She doesn’t want to be complicit in this or condone it in any way, so she didn’t close the “o,” an unconscious signal to me that she’d prefer if I didn’t close the “o” either and she’ll be glad to know I have no plans to do so—but I do plan on having a saucy good time.

Lunch was an otherwise undazzling Italian ristorante joint south of Karlsplatz. I ordered peperoni pizza and got pizza with peperonicis on it. So I ate it. We also got some bread & I ate that with olive oil. Em got spaghetti w/ lochs that was pretty good. The pants she was gonna wear have a broken zipper—too bad. Should I just throw them away? Well, unless you’re gonna get them exchanged you might as well cause they’re just takin up room in your pack. [10:09 pm]

I was in a fairly crummy mood after lunch today, don’t know why. Dachau was a memorable trip this morning. Could do nothing else in the day & would have accomplished something, had a story to tell, mark on X on the calendar. Took some photos. The documentary contained gruesome footage. What a horrible time in those peoples’ lives! What a living nightmare! Some prisoners would run into forbidden zone near the walls because they knew that they could get shot that way & die a relatively untortuous death. Soup-water and stale bread to eat. Disease dysentery torture emaciation isolation cramped living quarters getting kicked in the shins by some bum who’s lucky he wasn’t born with your name half-burned bodies clogging up the furnaces during 41 during the coal shortage sending mom a mother’s day card from the concentration camp smuggling paper and pen to write down or draw singing songs to stay happy giving up your dignity when you enter the door because that’s the price of admission except of course you didn’t ask to go there but life didn’t give you any other option and you just had to pray that someday you would live to be free again.

Monuments say do not forget what has happened here do not forget why you came here why there is something here in Dachau Germany that people come from more than 34 countries to see it was death and Nazism and discrimination and the evil that we as humans were capable of then are still capable of now and always will be capable of into the future do not forget what is here why it is here because here can be anywhere and to be on either side is nowhere anyone should want to be ever again in the future to come.
[10:18 pm]

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