Friday, April 28, 2006
Thursday, April 27, 2006
The Toasters in Köln
Well, the last few days have utterly rocked. The first night I got here we went out drinking, and my friends being German, they basically drank me under the table. I wasn't too hungover on Tuesday, but we did get up pretty late...
I mostly walked around Köln the last couple of days, seeing what there is to see and taking in Germany. It's a lot like France, only with less dog shit. And the people speak English, in general, much better (probably because the accent is easier for them).
Tuesday night we saw a live blues concert at this bar in the town where Bayer, the aspirin, is based. It's one of those crappy little towns that depend almost entirely on the company that is based there for absolutely everything. After the concert we came back home and watched, "Die fetten Jahre sind vorbei" which means, roughly, The Fat Years are Over (fat as in plentiful, not obese). You must see this film. The basic premise is three young people, in the spirit of the youth rebellions of 1968, breaking into über-rich people's homes and rearranging their furniture, leaving a note that says either, "The fat years are over", or,"You have too much money", signing it with, "The Edukators". There are some excellent discussions within the movie about the commodification of counterculture, which is something I've been thinking about recently, and resistance against the fetishization of capitalism. I will be burning a copy for viewing in the U.S.
Last night I got to see The Toasters, an NYC ska band, in Köln. I skanked an almost unreasonable length of time, and was very, very tired afterward. I must say that the Germans know how to skank better than the French by a longshot. I also think I was the only American in the crowd, which made me feel "special".
Today I'm going to the Ludwig Museum and up to the top of the cathedral in Köln, and then tomorrow it's off to Prague for a week to do, er, something?
Monday, April 24, 2006
Wednesday, April 19, 2006
Toys R Us Kid
It's 6:34 in the morning here, and I cannot sleep worth anything. I've been up since five. Last night I cooked dinner for my mom and her friend where they are staying at my friend's apartment. We drank four bottles of wine between the three of us, so you'd think I would have slept well. But no. So now I am looking through all of the blogs of my friends, and have come to discover that Kathleen is getting married, which is awesome. Also, her brother and his wife are having a baby.
A part of me feels really, really old when I hear these things. Everyone I know is getting, like, real jobs, houses, and spouses and kids are popping out everywhere. At the same time, I feel extremely young and immature because I myself don't even have a girlfriend or crush, a job that pays much more than what one would make at McDonald's, a car (not that I'd want one...) or health insurance. I considered paying 20 euros the other day for the shoes that I desperately needed a major purchase decision (the composition of the others was beginning to lean too much towards epoxy and bike tire to render them remotely water resistant). I guess you could call my lifestyle bohemian, and make it all romantical sounding, but it's really just a function of being absolutely free and mostly poor. Walking around the Louvre the other day, or having a picnic on a windy hill overlooking Rouen, I realized that I wouldn't trade any of it for the security/comfort of a house or a car or marriage. I'm fine with living my life the way I do, and feel no pressure to change it. It's nice to be able to say, "I'm going to Prague, and I don't know what I'm going to do there for a week, but I will sure as hell enjoy it." I have no dogs or children (not that I see them as the same amount of responsibility, mind you) to pawn off on someone to take care of, no house that needs watching or plants that need watering, no significant other to placate. So, really, I haven't grown up in many senses of the word, like "Having Responsibilities". But why would you want that, anyway? Now, after having written this blathering nonsense, I'm tired. If the walk home wakes me up, a bike ride is in order. If not, I'll just crash in my bed.
Friday, April 14, 2006
I can't think of much to write
I don't really know why I'm posting, actually. I have nothing to say, except that I'll see my mom for the first time in about seven months later this afternoon in Paris. My last Friday night here involved me doing laundry and going out for one beer in the cheapest bar in town. My friend Anne and I dug around in some old clothes to see if any were wearable that were in a box on the sidewalk and got heckled by the rowdy crowd in the kebap restaurant across the street.
As for the biking 2000km, well, that's probably out. I've been spending a lot of time saying goodbyes and getting crap ready for travelling the next month, so my riding time has been very little. Also, the weather has been on and off raining for awhile, so that doesn't help. The Camus will be done, I swear.
I recently read Ian McKewan's "Enduring Love", and despite the cheesy title it's fantastic. You could call it a study in the psychology of obsession and love, but it's more than that. I found that he fused philosophy, science and literature in the style of Huxley, but also brought to bear that ancient argument of objective vs. subjective, or reason vs. emotion. His writing is page-turning in the sense that he writes suspense very well. Not the overarching suspense of a detective novel, but the short-burst suspense of a thriller. I often would try to read as fast as I could in some scenes to get to the result of a tense moment, which is something that is difficult to find in writing. I'll maybe review this and other books better at a later date.
Off to my last class. I think I will slack off and play hangmand or something all hour, as I "can't be bothered" to teach something difficult and energy-consuming on a Saturday morning during my last class.
Coming and Going
Today is my last real day of teaching. I have five consecutive hours of Jeopardy, Clothes Bingo and watching the Brief History of the United States cartoon from Bowling for Columbine. It should be great. Tomorrow I have one hour in the morning where I still don't know what I will do with the kids (probably play games like hangman or something).
It still hasn't hit me that I'm leaving quite yet. Maybe because I'll still be around for another week or so giving my mother and her three friends a tour of Normandy. Then it's off to Köln for four days and then to Prague for a week. After that I'll be back here, then to Chicago via Dublin, then to Minneapolis, then to Sioux Falls and finally Ames, where I will hopefully make some money to compensate for all of this travel. That said, don't expect too many posts in the next month or so, since all of my internet access will be through cafés and the like.
If all works out well, I should be here again next year, so it's more like I'm going on a five month vacation and returning, really. I haven't started to get all nostalgic and sentimental about Le Havre and France, but I expect to. Probably when I'm in Chicago.
Wednesday, April 05, 2006
Camus and 2000 Kilometers
I have two goals before I leave here:
1. Exceed 2000 kilometers on the bike that I'm riding (currently at 1350)
2. Finish "L'exile et le royaume" by Albert Camus
I hope I can do both.
Gyros, gyros, gyros
I have been anxiously awaiting news about a possible job opportunity with a bicycle touring company for the past few weeks. Well, yesterday I recieved news that they do, in fact, want to "hire" me. Notice those quotes around the word hire in the last sentence? Those quotes mean that they do want me to work for them, but don't really want to "pay" me. I would be able to ride and work for them, but they would only pay for my food and lodging and travel expenses, nothing more. Now, if I had, say, 1,000 dollars in my pocket right now, I could swing that. All I would have to cover outside of the tour would be my student loans. But I do not, in fact, have 1,000 dollars. Or any money to speak of, really, that would allow me to work without being paid and then come back to this rather low-paying job. So, it will be back to Ames, IA and the Gyro stand for me.
Part of me is excited to go back to Ames, see old friends, and work at the stand again. I'll also be moving back into my old apartment as well, which is handy. It was never a choice between a good job that I enjoy and a "fallback" one. I had seriously considered not even applying for other things and just working at the stand in the first place. But it would have been nice to do something different, meet new challenges and learn new skills, as well as get paid to ride my bike. Ah, well, maybe next summer. I look forward to busting my ass again at late, late hours and drinking the acrid nectar that is Pabst Blue Ribbon at 6am while the sun comes up. I might also be able to deliver burritos on my bike for another company, which would kick not a little ass, and help me get a few more kilometers under my belt this year.