I think it’s every Chicagoan’s duty, when he has friends out on vacation in warm places, to bitch about all the cold weather back home — even if it’s not actually cold. It makes the vacation feel all that much better.
Gentle reader, my summer of relaxation has come to an end. From August ’04 to May ’07, I was in school and working full time continually. Over this summer, I’ve been lucky enough to just have to work, and that felt like a vacation. But all things come to an end, and school starts up again this month.
I’m taking one last trip before the final push. I’ve decided to drive out to Denver to visit my friend Amy, then come back via Chicago visiting my friend Dave. Along the way I’ll get to add a few new states to my list and see just how big this big country really is.
God willing, you’ll hear from me a little bit each day, as I post my adventures here. People tell me the drive across Kansas is a killer, and I guess we’ll find out. Since I’ve gotta stay overnight there and in Nebraska, there should be plenty of time to read and write. I’m looking forward to it.
Still continuing the monthlong extravaganza of returning from vacation. I actually think coming home and getting all those text messages and voice mails was more exciting than going on the trip! Happy new year to all y’all brothers and sisters, etc. (What song did they play at Axis at midnight???)
I finally got around to writing up descriptions for all the good photos from Berlin, which was only the first half of my trip. (I might do Amsterdam later, but let’s be honest, I wasn’t there as long and I didn’t take as many good pictures anyway. Also, I’m kind of busy all the time.) But, you’ll look at the Berlin pictures and you’ll like them!
It was such a fun time. Unfortunately, I did not get a picture of everything that happened, for example, visiting Cafe Maredo on the first day because my mother had discovered it the night before. (When I was in high school, we learned that Maredo was a kind of cheesy chain, and it was.) The hateful waiter put a bib on me solely out of spite, or else it was because Matt and I ordered the fajitas. I guess I actually do have this photo, but I’m not giving it to you. I also don’t have a picture of the little girl on the subway to whom, at the last second, my mom gave a euro because she felt sorry that the girl had to travel around with her mother and “that loser boyfriend.” (This was the unlikely Geschenk.)
In other news, if you get BBC America, I suggest you look for the ten-minute science filmstrip spoof “Look Around You.”
Greetings from Amsterdam! We left Berlin after four lovely days and just got here today. It has been so good to get out of town, to relax, to perambulate among the narrow streets, and to use my German.(Unfortunately, I don’t speak any Dutch, and after only a few hours I am already feeling homesick for it.Â So I withdrew 300 euros auf deutsch, and that made me feel a little better.)
There have been a lot of great stories, including one terrifying luggage tragedy where I thought our bags were lost, and a guy in Oompa-Loompa coveralls told me I would have to make a report. I thought you had to claim your luggage and then re-check it after Customs, like you do at home, when transferring to a domestic flight. (Wrong!) Many of my stories center around bossy Germans who assume I don’t speak their language. For example, on the flight from Munich to Berlin, the flight attendant didn’t like the way I’d stowed a bag, and snarled at me, “What do you think this is, a train?!” So, Germany is as I left it ten years ago, a land of bossy perfectionists who want you to know you’re wrong. (As in my other recent entry, no comments, bitte.)
The country made a much better impression on me than it did last time. Berlin seemed a comforting jumble of high classicism, banal modernity, GDR-era bomb shelters, and typical urban townhouses. It was possible to see new development cheek by jowl with scary socialist apartment blocks. But the people looked cool, the hangouts were great, and the food was good too.
I should get up to my room now and unwind, as it’s been a long day on the train and the cute conductor got off just as I’d advanced to the cafe car to make my move. Also, I was pretty ill last night, and as I memorably said today, “I’m sweating and I bear the stench of the sick.” I feel better, but do need some rest. When I have more time, I’ll tell you about Maredo, an unlikely Geschenk, the Sharon Stonewall Bar, and other fun stories.
Well, everyone, I’m off to Europe for a much-needed week of rest and relaxation.Â I’m going to Berlin first, then Amsterdam.Â Barring any more labor unrest over at US Airways, I’ll be on the plane for the big 2-0-0-5.Â (Did I just dial it out one digit at a time?Â Yes.)
We’re gonna take one laptop and, by my count, eleven bags, three cameras, and four phones. I think this is about right. I’m also carrying two dictionaries and three passports. (Don’t ask.)
I’ll be trying to post entries and maybe a photo or two for my adoring fans, so watch this space. But I can’t guarantee that I’ll answer e-mail or even write here; I’m sure you understand I’d prefer to be out enjoying myself in freezing weather than stuck in the hotel on a computer.
It’s been a while since I’ve written. Since it’s my policy not really to talk about the boring details of my day or my week, I’ve been reluctant to write much at all. Actually, my life has actually been really busy, but it’s all been that kind of minutiae I’ve had to manage. When you take it day to day, it’s not so bad, but when it’s added up it’s a bit of a fright.
So, in the last couple of months, here’s what I’ve been up to.
I’ve moved downtown into the horribly misspelled “ConneXtions Lofts” building. It’s a nice place to be, and I’ve been having fun worrying about what kind of furniture to buy and what to paint the walls. It’s kind of got me in a state of paralysis because I don’t want to decide. Also, I’m really tired of shopping and choosing. I have managed to spend $497.11 at the Container Store and I feel like I don’t have a damn thing to show for it. (Come see how I finally have plastic bins to put my Thurgood Marshall black history stamps in!)
And in minor news: I made a great weeklong vacation to D.C., Delaware, N.J., and Philadelphia, where I visited the National Constitution Center. My good friend and co-worker Rajni Dutta was made a citizen of the United States at the federal District Court here in Columbus! And Sunday I squoze in one last hurrah, a trip to Cedar Point, thusly capping a pretty good summer.
One other thing I’d say in apology for not writing is, you know that I also like to discuss political events here, but again, so much of what I’d say is obvious or would have been covered by the commentariat so much better. I can say that I checked the voter registrations of almost everybody I know in town and they were all correctly registered — congratulations, Franklin County friends! I’m sure you will all vote correctly. Sample ballots will be available for download on billcash.org later this month.
I’ll leave you with this last thought. I was at the gym recently and overheard a guy say to another guy, “Hell no, I don’t want to go to some damn web site and see somebody head get chopped off!” Can you remember a time when a conversation like that would have been unusual? It seems rather long ago.
2015 update: I don’t even remember what beheading we were looking at back in 2004.