Please weigh in, agree or disagree, thoughtfully and respectfully. Ferocity and passion are encouraged; disrespect is not. Thank you for reading, and seeing this as a conversation rather than a monologue.

September 21, 2010

How Can One Lack Enthusiasm for the Democrats?

A good friend asked me on Facebook why I was lacking in enthusiasm for Democrats as another fucking Election Day approaches. My reply follows. Any similes or metaphors you would like to add?

You really can't understand a lack of enthusiasm for the Democratic Party? Really? Explaining it feels like having to explain a joke: once it's explained, it won't be funny anyway, so maybe it's not worth explaining. But I'll try.

Getting excited - not just doing my (dubious) duty and voting, but getting UP for it, fired up, ready to go and all that - for the Democratic Party is a lot like getting excited at the news that there will be a Matrix 4 movie.

It's like trying to get it up for a date who just told you she'd do you in spite of the fact that you smell kinda funny and the dinner you bought her is making her a little sick.

It's like learning you won a free trip to California, and then finding out it's for a Trekkie Convention in Modesto.

It's like learning you inherited property . . . in EspaƱola.

It's like getting excited about being on hold for only 20 minutes. Or like being excited about going to the dentist because you don't have to have ALL of your teeth pulled.

It's like Rosemary being excited about having a baby.

You can make a case for all of those things having upsides. (Hey, Matrix 4 means someone is working!) And you can say that these developments are better than bad news (say, a new Paris Hilton movie.) But getting excited about them requires a level of compartmentalization that seems unnatural - or maybe supernatural.

So, I've almost never missed voting in an election. I will probably, if only by force of habit, vote in this one. Unless, you know, it's cloudy or something. But no, I don't think I'll be putting streamers on my car and honking through the city at night. But if you feel differently, go for it.

September 15, 2010

Everything Holds: A Dream Journal Entry

Yesterday, political commentary courtesy of Dudley Do-Right. That's NOTHING compared to today.

The Christmas Holstein. I had a picture of it on ny iPad. But that's not all. It was the Jewish Christmas Holstein. Not Hanukah. Not Jewish New Year. Jewish Christmas. And the Holstein was collapsed on the brick hearth, next to the Jewish Christmas tree, as if it had had too much kosher egg nog. This was taken at . . . Megan Sisco's house (sorry to drag you into this Megan. I've never even seen your house.).

Where was I looking at this picture of the Jewish Christmas Holstein in Megan's house? Why, funny you should ask.

Me and a groupa guys were hanging out at the top of a ladder going down into this pit, you see. This was, near as I can tell, somewhere in the Four Corners: New Mexico, Arizona or Utah, I'd guess. Just hanging out there at the mouth of the pit. One guy pointed out the name of one of the peaks, which I don't recall (that's another thing: I NEVER remember my dreams. Maybe once a year I do.).

And just before I awoke, there was a discussion about not holding the iPad over the pit - which we then did because guys fool around like that. So, of course, the iPad gets bobbled, and one guy falls into the pit, so we lose, not just the iPad, but one of the guys. Nope! REWIND! He's back! The iPad gets bobbled, the guy gets bobbled, all of us get bobbled, and everything holds.

September 6, 2010

Why Berlin?

A number of friends have asked me how or why I have ended up in Berlin on this trip, when the plan was to spend my time in the Balkans, Greece and Turkey. Here's your answer.

It was really, really hot down there. The same level of heat - high 90's, low 100's - that contributed to Russia's tragic fires. My reluctantly aging body reacted with repeated attacks of heat rash. I had to respond. Some ideas on the table were 1) to come home, 2) to continue as planned, but to upgrade my accommodations - ergo, the cost - to hotels and hostels with air conditioning, and 3) do what animals and plants do when the weather changes on them: head to more pleasant climes. I wanted to go with the second option, but the idea of traveling to these places, only to stay in a hotel room most of the day, seemed like a waste of time and money. The only reason to do it was to be able to check those places off of my list.

So I looked north. Far north. Denmark, Sweden, Finland north. Arctic Frigging Circle north, and no, I am not kidding. As I looked that way, I saw Berlin. I wanted to visit my former neighbor, John, who lives and works in Berlin almost half the year. But I was still thinking of covering a lot of territory. I had heard good things about Poland, especially Warsaw and Krakow. I had made a friend from Copenhagen. I'd have loved to see the parts of Norway I missed seeing when I was there ten years ago. And then there were the Baltic states, which are blossoming since coming out from under Soviet domination. And lots of other parts of Germany, too, like Lake Constance, the Black Forest, Hamburg, and on and on.

You can see how I'd basically just like to travel for the rest of my life. There is a lot to see and learn.

But then I began to consider spending some extra time wherever I landed in Germany, maybe taking some classes, trying to resurrect my high school German. I was in touch with John, trying to coordinate my visit with the time when he would be in Berlin rather than Berkeley. I had planned on just visiting for a couple of days (you know the old saying about house guests and fish), but when I told him I was thinking of staying longer, taking classes, he offered me the use of his flat while he was away.

Decision made!

How could I resist? Berlin is one of those cities - like Paris, New York, Istanbul - that are world cities, not just representative of their home country. To be able to stay for a while, take classes, maybe even for a month, and make weekend excursions to surrounding towns - it seemed ideal. So I hitched a ride with a hostel friend to Bucharest from Bulgaria and caught a flight to Berlin.

John was here for the first few days and helped me to settle in. I rested up from the stresses of the heat, did a little sightseeing, and placed an ad in Craig's List Berlin for a German teacher. I met Olga and interviewed her, and a few days later signed on to have her teach me German. We've been meeting three hours a day, three days a week. It's slow going, but es geht, as they say.

As I have class in another hour or so, I must go. I am also moving out of John's place in the next day or two, into a flat I have rented while its owner - a German bureaucrat and rock star who spends much of her year working in Hanoi - is away. Later, I will catch you up on my neighborhoods, my trip to Hamburg and its repercussions, and what the bicycling culture is like here.

Oh, and I should tell you, too: my original itinerary had me returning home in late September. My plans, such as they are, are now for me to come back to Santa Fe in late October. My flexibility is thanks to Rick Lass, who is sitting Boz and my house while I am gone. Thanks, Rick!
Because I Need to Know If McAndrew Is Full Of It