Sunday, July 18, 2010

"Scares Away the Rats" ....Pt. 2!

First, I have to tell you about the plane ride. Glory of glories, I was sitting next to someone with post-nasal drip. The term "post-nasal drip" has never made sense to me. When did "pre-Nasal drip" happen? Now we're suddenly over it?

Anyway, if you ever find yourself sitting next to someone who feels the urge to snort his snot back up into his nose every couple minutes, don't make the situation more frustrating for yourself by counting the time that has elapsed between each snort. Just do the normal thing and listen to music on your iPod really loudly for seven hours or until he falls asleep.

By the time the digital version of the plane is hovering over Dusseldorf, I am comatose. When we arrive in Berlin, I am practically dead. Suffice to say, It takes me a bit of time before I settle into my life in Berlin. I am SO jetlagged. Not like the kind of jetlagged where you go to sleep really early one night and wake up really late the next morning and feel groggy but drink an espresso and get over it, but the kind of jetlagged where you lay incapacitated in your hostel bed for almost three entire days, only taking little breaks to down a gatorade and grab a croissant.

The short Italian man in the bunk above mine seems to share my restless sleepy temperament. With every twist and turn, every change from cadaver to fetal to cadaver and back again, he seems to move in a synchronized fashion. We are like the Naavi in Avatar, communicating through bedspreads and steel springs instead of hair. It is uncomfortable, and awkward, to see him in the morning, standing above me and putting on deodorant, his crotch in my face, knowing he'd heard me whimper a little bit the night before as my exhausted body continued to refuse to fall asleep.

The hostel room smells like dudes who smell like rotting Subway sandwiches. And halitosis. And death. The first thing I do after I've roused myself into consciousness is go and get a drink. It's 9 am but I can hear bleeps and bloops emanating from a locked wooden door about fifty feet away from the hostel entrance. I sit down in the bar and order a vodka orange juice from the supermodel bartender. She pours half a glass of vodka into my drink, mixes it with orange juice, asks me for three euros and then runs off to dance suggestively with a woman who looks like her sister. Then someone offers me acid. It's 9 am! This is, weirdly, the moment when I fall back in love with Berlin.

I wander dazedly out of the bar and spot two gays kanoodling over espresso. I stare at them as I'm walking and almost trip over a bike. There are old ladies schmoozing, tatooed hipsyers locking up their bikes, tall, skinny women riding bikes with little wooden carts filled with screaming children attached. I welcome myself to Europe.

I sit down at a restaurant and order a salad. "Salad? Do you speak English?" I ask the waitress with the requisite amount of shame one should feel for not knowing the language in a place you have flown thousands of miles to live in. "No, I don't speak any English," the woman says to me in perfect English. Then she smiles. "What do you want?"

I'd bought a German to English translation book written by Rick Steves- a proud monolinguist -but half the book was about beer. I could ask for an obscure lager but was still at a loss when it came to telling someone they looked sexy. However, I was actually enjoying not knowing the language. Life is so much more exciting when all you have to work with are the wild gestures and emotive facial expressions of an out-of-commission mine.

After ordering, I look at the pictures in a German newspaper sitting next to me. "La la la," I think to myself as I stare at the pictures.

The man next to me feels around his butt. It suddenly occurs to me that I am not reading some newspaper left to the population by a benevolent cradle-to-grave socialist country for general perusing, but this man's newspaper that he bought with his own cash money. I apologize and give it back to him, miming the universal expression of regret.

My food arrives but instead of eating it, I stare into the crowd of people sitting lazily about, munching on croissants, talking, laughing. "This is the life!" I think to myself and renounce all the epiphanies I'd had in New York about the importance of hard work and dedication.

I end up staying at the hostel for over a week. Staying in a hostel for such long periods of time is kind of like enrolling yourself in an international speed-dating service. Everyone starts with the typical questions ("Where are you from? What are you doing here?") but eventually you find yourself courting new friends and romanticizing their home countries. "France, wow, such a beautiful country," you say, attempting to conjure memories of the trip you took with your family when you still claimed you were straight.

Eventually, I meet two Israelis who seem fun.

"Hey, you're a gay right?" one of them asks me.

"What do you think of this shirt?"

"I think it's fucking ugly. Wear that one," I say.

"Hey, all right! That was a good tip, man! Yeah, you're good!"

I feel comfortably bitchy around them. The boys have a series of catch phrases they repeat, probably because they don't feel like coming up with actual English sentences around me.

"I don't give a fuck," is stated was frequently and emphatically as in a reality television show. South Park episodes were quoted with reverence. This was going to be a long night.

One of the first things we do is visit Alexanderplatz, home of Berlin's television tower. Soaring much higher than the space needle, but crowned with an orb that looks like Epcot, the building initially looks like a piece of space junk that just happened to land in the capitol of Germany.


Saturday, July 17, 2010

Oh, By the Way...

The reason I haven't been writing here is because I've been writing over here. Come read about art!

Hallo, Vas Is Up?

i cannot stop trying to sound like bruno here.

it all started with a music poster which said "vas is worldmusic?" i thought the poster was so silly (because, uhm, world music is world music, aka "music of the world" aka "music made by non-white people") so i started thinking in my head "vas is worldmusic" like all day long because it was bizzare and also i'm trying to learn german so i could file it under the part of my brain that was reserved for "new and exciting information". but i can't stop thinking in bruno's accent. which is actually a fairly accurate depiction of a flamboyant gay german accent.

besides old people and babies (such classics) there are many other things i enjoy laughing at here. i was horrified to find german country music at a gay club, but after i'd sat around for a while i just found it funny. it's amazing to hear the german accent in a dolly parton type song.

some things also get amazingly lost in translation. there's an asian restaurant here called "rice queen" which, in america, is a derogatory term for an older gay man who likes younger asian boys, though i doubt the owners have realized that. the restaurant (i kid you not!) is right next to another restaurant called "papa no." it kills me.

people from every corner of the planet live here. french people are probably my favorite. watching french children eat food is hilarious. they are so dainty with their forks! such cultured children, even at a young age. how do they know how to hold their knives. christ, they even rest the fork and knife on the plate after they're done. when i try doing that, the fork and knife fall to the ground and i laugh because this is what american people do: we fuck up and laugh. these kids are something else, though.

there are sex shops EVERYWHERE. there are like five gay saunas next to my apartment. i went once and stared at the porn on the walls and left. good story right? another time i asked the man behind the counter if i could buy a bottle of water and he looked at me like i was an alien. i want to think of a good gay sex club joke. i want to find something funny about sex shops, but maybe theyre actually just kind of sad? yeah, that might be true.

germans LOVE techno. everywhere sounds like a gay club. i'll be eating falaffel at a schwarma shop and have a gay club flashback mid-bite-of-chicken because the turkish owner of the shop is in lurv with an obscure lady gaga remix.

germans are lazy. relatively speaking. either that or americans are workaholics. i oscillate between thinking one is true, then the other, then both.

germans are effortlessly creative. this is what i've decided. at some point in their lives, some representative from MOMA sat them down and told them how to decorate their living rooms, then they traded a blowjob for excellent fashion advice from michael kors, and then they decided they were "over" all that and created living rooms and wardrobes that were somehow even more sophisticated than anything in america. seriously, i walk into apartments and i feel like i'm a model in a catalogue. i want a life.

germans roll their eyes when you say you're an american, but there's still a lot of love there. you just have to talk about obama and the differences between red states and blue cities. then you're in.

i need to learn german.

i miss u!