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Saturday, February 25, 2006

Where am I going?

I am going to Houston today to see "this little band from Iceland". I may stay there for a few days because I kind of like it there, and Mardi Gras gives me time off.
Feel free to comment as much as you want on my ten-day travelogue. I can't guarantee that I will respond to them, but I will definately read them and most definately enjoy them.
Have a good one!

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Germany, Day Ten: "Finale. That's German for 'The End'"

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We woke up real early that morning and hit the train back to Frankfurt. I later found out that Frankfurt was German for "hot dog sandwich", which really confused me because isn't a hot dog a sandwich already? And why would you name a town after one? I may have dreamed all this up, but I doubt it.
Once to the airport, we caught a 100 capacity bus carrying 200 people to our terminal. We then, in end-of-the-movie-drama fashion, lost each other and had to look around manically to find each other again--Robker was the only one who knew when we were supposed to get off.
Miracualously, we kept up and got off at the right place.
We were all very, very hungry, so for the first time on the trip, we got fast food. We went to McDonald's. It was the German McDonald's, though, so it was different, but I was tired, so I can't remember how it was different, but I'm sure the burgers had sauerkraut-covered sausages named buggerwurst or fecalwurst instead of beef. Actually, I haven't mentioned it, but any sausage I ate in Germany ending with "wurst" was really good, and again, I wish I could have bought more, but more on that later.
I got a biscuit and some O.J.--the drink, not the Naked Gun co-star, and then it was time to go.
The goodbyes with Robker were quiet and sad. I think he was going through a rough time during this period, and it also sucked to know we wouldn't be seeing each other again for a while.

And then there were two...
Stephanie and I then went through the rigors of metal detection. After stripping completely naked and having a woman in leather stuff a large ham-shaped camera into every orifice on my body, I got dressed and got on the plane.
Once again, we had an empty row each, but this time there were no movies I wanted to see.
We then suffered a major scare.
President Bush was in town.
That's not the scare. The scare was that because he was in town, all flights were projected to be delayed three hours.
We began to panic. Still suffering from PESS (Post Election Stress Syndrome), my anger was at an all time high. This seemed to be just typical, but praise The Lord in Heaven, we weren't delayed, and we got right on out of there.
The flight was...interesting.
Expecting to sleep easy this time, I was again wrong because sleep not I did.
I listened to some Arcade Fire and some Project 86, then I started playing solitaire on the entertainment module.
I played for three to five hours.
I'm not lying or exxagerating. I admit I have done that a bit in some of these entries, but not here.
I did not win one single game. Not one.
I began to go mad.
I could not win. I tried again and again, sometimes on the verge of victory, but lost every single time. It was ridiculous.
About to lose my mind, I switched the entertainment module to the little pool of songs available. I put on "Run" by Snow Patrol and had an epiphany.
I'm not lying. An epiphany. That's what happens after you play solitaire for five hours. The revelation of this epiphany will remain private, but this was the first of two times this song would have a profound effect on me in 2005.
With more time to kill, I reflected on the trip.
Here are some conclusions:
1. The Bad
A. Low Funds: I definately did not anticipate the rough exchange rate. The small fortune of dollars I brought was no match for the Euro exchange rate. Had the rate been what it was our last two days in Germany, this would not have been as big a problem. However, if I go again, I plan on taking two small fortunes instead of one. Then I can actually try everything I want instead of skimming the surface of everything I want.
B. Three Group Members, Two Related: I could not have asked for better traveling companions in the Robkers. They are intelligent, caring folks, but there was one problem with the arrangement--they are siblings. While Robker and I have a lot in common and get along quite well, he and his sister grew up together and feel and act the same way about many things in ways that I do not feel and act. It would have been nice to have a family member or long-time aquaintance such as Charlie, Adrian, or Peterson with me, to balance things out. Someone to climb the towers with me and walk the beach with me. Someone who is as 'immature' as me. This was something that was sorely missed.
C. Lack of Planning on My Part: I really should have done more research before the trip. Robker worked his butt off picking and searching for locations, and he had to because I did not do so at all. I had no idea what I wanted to see and could only give generalizations about what I wanted to see. I should have planned more. This would have made Robker's life a lot easier, and would have made for a better trip for all of us.
2. The Good:
A. Everything Else: Germany was like walking an alien planet to me, and I like walking alien planets. I got to see Robker and hang out with him for ten days, which is always great. I probably wouldn't have the job I have now if not for a conversation I had with Stephanie in Cologne about the EBRP library. I got to taste and experience many new things, and, besides the Sauerkraut, I enjoyed almost everything. I also got to go to places that were behind the Iron Curtain, and this has always been a special desire of mine. Well, not always, considering the Berlin wall has only been down for 17 years, but you get what I mean.
I had a really, really good time, which I think this travelogue has reflected.
3. The Ugly:
A. Sauerkraut

We landed in Detroit, then connected in Memphis, where we had a long layover.
Stephanie and I found a bench, she laid down, and I sat back and listened to some NMH and Kent. While sitting there, watching countless Americans pass, two things hit me:
1. The Morbid Obesity of Americans: There were some slightly overweight Europeans. I won't lie. But I saw no morbidly obese ones. No one who was so fat, they had to shuffle. The people there were healthy looking. Not fat.
Not so in Memphis. For every ten people that passed before me, seven were morbidly obese, stomachs either hanging FAR below their belts, or bulging to the extreme that they waddled like a duck. This made me very sad.
I then put some serious thought into why things were this way, but that is for another entry.
2. American News Sucks Even More than I Originally Thought:
The top story on CNN was that a tiger had gotten loose in a rural area in California and had been shot. This was the number one news topic for the three or four hours we were there.
In Germany, the top subjects on CNN were things like the assasination of the former prime minister of Lebanon and the ensuing Middle East political turmoil it caused. While this seemed like a huge issue, I heard nothing of it when I arrived back in the U.S.
Just a dead tiger.
I then put some serious thought into why things were this way, but that is for another entry.

We flew from Memphis to Baton Rouge. Stephanie and I hugged goodbye, half of my parents picked me up, and then I rode home.
I gave my family almost thirty candy bars, which they ate in less than a week. I'm not in the least bit kidding, and you can ask Charlie. He will say, "Maybe not thirty, but it was a lot. " They were mostly eaten by my father, the greatest sweet-tooth of them all.

Well, the trip was over. I went to Houston two days later, quickly chronicled in these two posts. One. Two.
Then I had the roughest, strangest, most life changing year of my life in which I faced crisis and extreme change on virtually every front.
The Germany trip was a prelude, a white, foggy calm before
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the journey began.
And what an insane, life-wrecking, life-changing, life-affirming journey it was.
But it is a journey I completed before starting the one I am on now.
It is a journey that featured a dark-tea-time-of-the-soul summer the likes of which I had never thought would be neccessary to my life, a summer I did not post in this journal and may never reflect on here.
It was a journey where I lost friends to death, technicality, or their and my own malfeasance. It was a year I got kicked in the teeth over and over again, yet was rescued by hope and grace.
Most importantly, it is a year that is OVER,
and I am so happy to have chronicled the quick respite that took place beforehand.
I hope this travelogue was enjoyable to you, and if you want to comment anything, and I mean ANYTHING about it, feel free to go ahead, whether it is on what your favorite entry, quote, picture, or whatever was, or anything else. I did this so that my friends or even perfect strangers could have a fun read, and I hope it was that.
Anyway, thus ends the travelogue. Even the most minute change in mood could have made each entry completely different, but instead of focusing on that, I will leave them how they are (except for any technical errors I notice).
And that's all I have to say about that...
except this:

No, I'm kidding, that's it.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Germany, Day Nine: "Chocolate Factory? The Place...Or the R.Kelly Album?"

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ATMs in Germany and Sarah Michelle Gellar have a similar relationship with me--they never tell me what I want to hear. When I said, "RahRah, baby, leave Freddy for me," Sarah said, "No." When I said, "ATM, what my balance be?" ATM said, "Balance? That does not compute." Then I kicked the ATM machine, and it exploded in a fiery ball of coins booming like a thousand slot machines. This is similar to the Sarah Michelle Gellar situation, except she kicked me, and I exploded in a fiery ball of booming disappointment.
The three of us finally found a bank that could tell me what was going on.
Aparently, I was rich.
The night before, the Euro had taken a startling fall, going from 28.7 trillion dollars per .1% of a Euro all the way down to like $.88 a Euro.
I then decided that I had to buy my mother a wooden mantel clock. Don't laugh, it's what she asked me to get. More on this later.
The three of us left the underground bank and emerged in the cold light of German day to the biggest freakin church I have ever seen.
Remember how I said in the day-two entry that Robker told me the Nuremburg cathedral was a small church?
He was, as always (Except in the case of sauerkraut. Come on, man, I know you don't enjoy eating that stuff!), correct. This Cologne church, the Dom Cathedral, was just as big as he had promised. Look at how tiny those folks next to it are in the above picture! And they're standing about thirty feet from the building! You could fit the entire cast of Gigli in there!
We went inside, and I was promptly yelled at. A man in a red robe ran toward me and started barking at me in a strange gutural language I later found out is called "German", though, if there are others who speaked this cursed tongue, I have not met them. He kept pointing at my head, and I suddenly realized he wanted me to take off my hat. But it was so cold in there! Like, Steve Austin cold!
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The Moria-like architectural design didn't exactly help.
Since the cathedral was so tall, I wanted to go to the top.
Of course the Robker's didn't want to, so I made fun of them and left.
Halfway up the second tallest gothic structure in the world, so big it is impossible to get in one picture, I wasn't laughing. I was wheezing for my dear precious life.
I don't know how many steps that thing has, but it is even MORE than the amount of Friday the 13th, Halloween, and Nightmare on Elm Street Films COM! BINED!
The view was worth it though.
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This is my favorite photograph of the whole trip.
After deciding we didn't want to pay to see the church's "treasure" we went to this sweet ancient-human-life museum. It was not cool beans because even room temperature beans are nasty, and I don't really get that expression.
It was a nice museum, though.
All except this EVIL statue that I was forced to stare down.
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I don't even have to tell you who won, but it was me.
Also, something I love about this picture:
Look at how scraggly that facial hair is! It's still scraggly a year later, but during my 23rd year it certainly filled in a bit. Sigh...someday I'll being able to grow a beard. Well, until then, at least I can gloat in my spectacular staring contest victory that I won, when I, feeling particularly verile, slapped the statue on the top of the head repeatedly until I was absolutely sure that that Mofo blinked.
You lose, dude!!!
We then walked along some river, which I am sure was transported Mississippi River water from St. Louis, along with the riverfront because it looked exactly the same.
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I love them Robkers!
I'm not sure if you can tell or not, but the wind was blowing approximately 200 miles an hour in this picture. It was crazy!!! But nothing could stop our determination because we were headed to the CHOCOLATE FACTORY!!!
I couldn't wait to get in there, and when I did it was everything I could possibly hope for and more. Teachings on how my precious chocolate is made. Diagrams of how my precious chocolate is made. The actual viewing of how my precious chocolate is made.
And most importantly:
The consumption of my precious chocolate!
That's right, I was allowed to drink from the:
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That brown stuff is chocolate! Sweet precious chocolate! The factory is on a boat in the river, and the fountain is at the head of the boat. A nice lady dipped one of those wafers into the fountain and handed it to me (I refuse to believe that she did this for anyone else). It was sooo good! I felt so completely satisfied, yet wanting so much more.
But for some reason I didn't buy any candy from the gift shop because I bought over thirty (I'm not exxagerating) candy bars in Hamburg to bring home to my psychotically sweet-toothed family.
After we left the factory, we did some stuff, and then some more stuff. I just talked about chocolate, though, so I don't have too much more to say. We ate some Donor-Kabobs and some really good ice cream, and then I went on the final mission, as, I will now reveal, this was the last full day of the trip.
The final mission was to find my mother's wooden mantel clock.
And, apparently, they don't make those in Germany. Robker, Stephanie, and I went on a mad dash for a clock, hitting every single store in sight. We looked for hours and hours, and we found NOTHING. Nothing. Finally, we found an antique shop with something similar to a wooden mantel clock. The clock was old, international looking, pretty, pricey, but not too pricey. We checked a few more places, found nothing, then came back and scooped it up. It sits upon the mantel still*.
The mission complete, the trip nearly over, the three of us went to a rave, took copious amounts of ecstasy, and fell into a textbook cuddle-puddle. We met up later and went back to the hotel.
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And if you believed that last part you must go up and down these steps six quadtrillion times or pay me three Euros.
We did buy a bottle of Apfel Liquor, which is this whiskey made from apples Robker told me to try.
By the time we got back to the hotel, I was about to pass out. I was exhausted. I was dead tired.
But I didn't want to admit this, of course.
I have always been the last to go to sleep, everywhere. On this trip, I would read long after the Robkers had fallen asleep. In Washington, all my roommates fell asleep long before I did. I am the only one awake in this house right now, and at this time at night, I always am. It's just my way, and I have a reputation to uphold, so when the Robkers wanted to let the Whiskey sit on our third story window ledge to cool off, I objected.
Of course, I didn't want to say that I was tired, so I just said I wanted to drink it then. They wanted to wait, and I didn't. So then I offered to start drinking on my own, but they told me that's what alcoholics do. I wanted to drink the whole thing and go to bed, though. I wanted to bring the bottle home for my bottle-collecting brother, and I didn't want to:
A. Bring a liquid filled bottle on the plane, or
B. Dump any of the whiskey in the sink because I paid 17 Euros for it.
So, I took a shower and did all manner of things to stay awake.
Finally, the bottle got cold, and we drank it. Steph had one glass, Robker had two, and I had about four, draining that sucker, washing it out, and leaving it out to dry. Of course, now that it was time for bed, I got my second wind.
So, after we went to bed, I lay awake, thinking about how I wished I didn't have to go home the next day, but the next day is for tomorrow's entry.

*The next week, while visiting the Wal-Mart in NEW ROADS, I noticed that an enormous selection of wood-carved mantel clocks were on sale.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Germany, Day Eight: "All Your Euro Are Belong to Us"

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Ah, the Euro.
I ran out of money. I sent a desperate e-mail to my mother to let her know that my bank account was almost empty.
Usually, I don't take handouts or expect to get any from my parents, but this was an emergency.
If I didn't get money quick, I was going to have to wash all of Europe's dishes for an eternity before I could come home, and have you seen what those people eat? I was not about to start scraping Sauerkraut backwash, so I begged. My mom had already given me a generous contribution as a college graduation gift, but between that and my own cash, which, added together, was a lot in dollars, I had uh, not so much in Euros...
Anyway, I called her collect on Robker's cell, and she went to the bank to put some money in there for me (I promise you this is the only time this has happened in my LIFE. I'm not trying to be (very) prideful, but it's the truth. Not that my parents don't help me out. They certainly do.).
Unfortunately, the Euro ATM's don't tell pathetic Americans their bank balance, so I never knew if the money was in or not. AHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
With that on my mind, we did a walking tour of Hamburg.
Hamburg's streets are paved with semen.
Seriously. The world's biggest red-light district is not in Amsterdam. It is in Hamburg, and it is called the Reeperbahn, and we walked two blocks in just to see it, and I almost puked.
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Even outside of the Reeperbahn, everything I saw in Hamburg was quite filthy. Every sign had either a penis, a vagina, breasticese, or a woman performing fellatio on another woman.
Every sign but one:
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You can't have both, dude. You can only have ONE!!!
This started to make me depressed. I'm all for artistic eroticism in limited quantities, but all-out tasteless debauchery is not my bag.
This, coupled with the hotel shower straight from the river STYX made Hamburg my least favorite city of the trip.
But there were some bright spots.
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After crossing the "Field of the Holy Spirit" (That's it above with Robker and Stephanie walking across it. Does it look like "The Field of the Holy Spirit" to you? Also, that's some ridiculously tall tower WAY off in the distance. Also, to the left, I think, is where the movie "Saw" took place. I'm lying about that last bit, but seriously. Should I add something else here to throw the rest of the sentence off even more? Did you know that the Star-Nosed Mole is the only member of the genus Condylura? You did? You cheeky swimmer!), I was mentally exhausted. What a depressing city. And then, from nowhere, more snow came, and it got even colder and more miserable.
Finally, we came to an old building at the point of a V city block with the arms of the V as streets and the open space as land.

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Obviously, it was a church, but not like one I had ever seen.
Robker said it was an Eastern Orthodox church.
I was under the impression that this would be a very private place.
Nevertheless, I could not curtail my curiousity. I really wanted to look inside.
I mean, look at this doorknob:
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Like you could resist turning this thing!
So, I turned it.
We stepped into a pleasant and refreshingly warm room. It looked like a normal older church interior, but there were colorful artifacts all over the front of the sanctuary. I took off my hat.
Two women stood near the front, vacuuming the carpet. I wanted to get out of the room before they noticed us. Suddenly, one of the women looked up, then the other. I tensed, but they both smiled warmly and waved at us. I waved back, smiled, nodded. They went back to vacuuming, and we left. I don't know why, but those women's simple kindness made me feel like a million dollars, or two Euros. I have good feelings for the Orthodox Church based solely on the kindness of those two women.
After this, we headed toward some river that inspires German pride. Considering the atmosphere of the locale, I should just call it the Semen River, or in German, the River Semen.
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Anyway, we suddenly found ourselves in another nice warm pocket of non-debaucherous pleasant feelings.
First, we saw this building:
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Then we found this sweet restaurant that served all kinds of different food:
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If you know me even in the least bit, you can probably guess which of these things I purchased. I'll give you a hint: it's the one that doesn't end in a consonant.
I ate all of my food, and then, like the ravenous, Krunk-Juice Beast/Dirty White-Boy that I am, I ate the Robker's leftovers as well.
After this, we went back to the hotel, grabbed our stuff, and beat out of that town like it just weren't cool no more.
Before we did that, though, I decided to take a cheesy MySpace type picture of myself in a mirror with the flash on, and since I now use it as a joke on the Xanga site I never update and have solely to comment on other people's Xangas, I thought I would share it here:
But I just changed my mind, so I won't because it looks stupid.
Anyway, the three of us hopped a train for Cologne.
Robker and I then had a near three hour conversation on our women-history.
Surprisingly, we had not traded many of these stories before, so we had great females-suck bonding time (No offense to females who do not suck). Stephanie slept.
During this conversation, I knocked off 1200 candy bars.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Germany, Day Seven: "Excuse Me...Can You Tell Us Where the Ocean Is, Cuz, Uh...We Can't Find It"

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I love the sea. We are definitely an item. I don't so much like being in it as gazing out at it (so platonic), but it has always had a special place in my heart due to much time in my life spent in the since Katrina-destroyed trailer camp "Rise n' Shine" in the so-called Cajun paradise, Grand Isle. I'm not Cajun, but I like Grand Isle and ridiculously long run-on sentences. Sigh...
Anyway, I like looking at the ocean, and sand doesn't bother me very much, but the Robkers hiss and spit at sand like a cat at Clifford the Big Red Dog.
Also, if you can't tell, I like Scandinavia like 50 Cent raps about fat kids liking cake, and a visit to the Baltic Sea would put me right on its doorstep.
Early that morning we took a train Northwest to Hamburg. That's not a typo. It's an actual direction. We got there, got rid of our stuff at the hotel, then took a ride farther North to the town of Lubeck.
Thus begins my great victory over Jon Robker.
"We are going to the beach, right?" I asked on the train.
"LUBECK IS ON THE OCEAN!" Robker said nastily. I know he was thinking about all the sand he was going to have to pull out from between his toes.
We then arrived in Lubeck, which is an absolutely beautiful city. I could have taken a landscape photo of it, but instead, I took a picture of this:
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Anyway, the three of us walked toward where we thought the ocean was.
And then we walked some more.
The town began to look like New Roads (town I went to high-school and held my first job in):
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except the population was whiter than crackers n milk, which is the opposite of New Roads, but otherwise, it was basically the same place with older buildings and more well-managed waterways. I can't even explain how much I missed black folks while I was in Europe. They just weren't there. Almost nothing but white folks. It made me lonely at times.
Anyway, we kept walking.
Eventually, after having to shave three times just to keep our beards from touching the ground (Except for Stephanie. She refused to shave her beard...Zing! Just kidding, Steph...don't kill me :) ?) we realized something was wrong.
When Robker stopped someone and asked them how far the ocean was, and their first response was hysterical laughter, I knew we were in trouble.
Lubeck is not on the ocean. It is near the ocean. Thirty miles near.
We walked back and got on another train.
Eventually, we reached a resort town on the Baltic Sea.
Of course, I can neither remember or spell the name of this town.
The Robkers stayed on the sidewalk while I ran around the beach like a five-year old, which is basically what the ocean, extreme cold, and twenty chocolate-vanilla Milka bars do to me. Combining these three things sent me into hyper-five-year-old-mode. And that's because:
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We left the beach and went back to the train station.
I was surprised and saddened to find that this was, indeed, the end of the line.
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It was was all very sad. Even more sad was when the three of us divied up the cost of the trip to split three ways.
Unfortunately, due to the conversion rate, all three of us would now have to sell our bodies until we died just to break even again.
That's right.
We were up for several hundred Euros apiece, or
Thankfully, we sorted things out through a tax-loophole so we could get by on what we had. Actually, we got by because the most excellent Robker thought ahead to buy a train discount card. Because of this card, we saved several hundred Euros, or
This more than made up for the lack of Sea-Existence in Lubeck. Plus, that walk took off some of the calories from the hundreds of candy bars I had consumed in the last seven days.
We got back to Hamburg and settled into our digs.
We then went to an Italian restaurant (I needed it in a Desert Needs the Rain/Mango way). We found some place and I ordered a pizza called a "Sofia Loren". This pizza had fried eggs on top of it! I'm not kidding. And it was good.
What was not good--the shifty waiter swindled us out of about four Euros.
I don't even have to tell you how many dollars that is:
Anyway, we walked back to the hotel. Hamburg felt strange and dirty, and I REALLY wanted to take a shower.
Well, I have been promising a shower horror story.
Here it is:
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The shower was just right there in the middle of our room!
I mean, look at it. There it is.
So, you are probably thinking one of two things:
B. Uh, that's not really that bad, dude. Chill out.
Well, Mr. B, if the location of the shower isn't bad enough, check this out.
So, I get in the shower, strip naked, and hang my clothes over the side.
I get a decent wash done, and then turn the water knob.
The water does not turn off.
I turn the knob the other way.
The water burns my flesh off.
I turn the knob the other way.
The water is still burning my flesh off.
I panic.
The water suddenly gets cold.
I start yelling.
Robker and Stephanie try to help me, but I am in the middle of the room, soaking wet, cold, naked, and modest only by a thin curtain.
Robker and Stephanie start yelling out ideas, but none of them work.
I think of everything under the sun, but the water won't turn off.
The shower curtain gets sucked into the drain, jams it, and threatens to flood the room.
I put up a noble fight, finally pulling it out before the water spills on the floor.
The shower still won't turn off.
I finally can't take it anymore.
I tell the Robkers to clear out of the way, grab my towel, and dive out.
The Robkers rush into the vacant shower and attempt to turn it off.
I get dressed, and it is still going.
We don't know what to do.
Time goes by.
People die, people change.
Robker turns the knob as the three of us have done a hundred times, and suddenly the shower turns off.
Ten seconds of silence.
Hysterical laughter.
I never got in that shower again.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Germany, Day Six: "Playa, Don't Jam My Flow!"

Did you have an aunt or uncle that gave or let you do anything but didn't have the responsibility of disciplining you, making your time with them like heaven on Earth?
Yeah, me neither.
But if I had, they would have been like the manager of the hotel we stayed at in Berlin. This woman was awesome. Check that picture above the bed. It's the coolest thing ever. Check the hotel dining room:

The whole place was sweetly art-nouveau'd. It was very pleasing and relaxing to be in, and the building was older than time and had carvings in the ceiling made by extraterrestrial beings:

Robker is the Ultimate Ninja of Paradise City for finding this hotel. Seriously, there is nothing he can do to fall off the undisputed throne of awesome he now sits upon because that hotel was excellent. I don't care how much Sauerkraut he eats, I like that guy.
We spent day five in Berlin checking out the sights and stuff. We went to some museum that, of course, I cannot pronounce or remember, but it was pretty cool, and there wasn't a wait to get in or anything. Also, instead of a tour guide, or "tool guide," as I like to say, you wear headphones that allow you to enter in the display you are looking at for more information. There was an English version, which was obviously there because even the Germans who DON'T speak English would rather listen to a pleasant English voice than a 'German' one.
The three of us split up so that we could focus on our particular interests. This was a museum of antiquity, and I like old stuff, so I looked at everything.
The museum headset was very informative. It saved my life.
I was leaning very close into this statue of Aphrodite

when the heaphone voice said in the most pleasant English ever:
"Notice the stain near the crotch area. This was made when a particularly 'fond' Ancient Roman man masturbated into the statue."
I leapt back so violently, I nearly broke the Zeus behind me. I did not take a picture of the stain. I took the above picture before I heard the "semen" story. I did not get close to that statue again.
Also, Tobey MacGuire was there:

Don't ask me why.
It's the Germans.
I guess they like Spiderman or something.
After the museum we did other stuff. We did stuff before the museum, too, but that stuff isn't that funny, so I'm not telling you about it.
Eventually, we split up and I ended up at this underground record store because I like that, and you know it.
Look at how awesome this Mars Volta poster I found is:

*DROOLS* It's so cool! I stared at it until they made me leave, but not before I got another precious Kent CD, their second Swedish album. Sweet victory!!!
I went on an extra jolly walk back to the hotel to meet my compadres. I stopped at a Donor Kabob shop and picked myself up a sweet, uh...Donor Kabob.
Donor Kabobs are made of turkey shavings from a giant 6 ton turkey leg. Seriously, I don't know how they make this giant "turkey leg" but there is this huge rack of pressed turkey hanging from the ceiling and the waiter, usually Turkish, gets a giant sword like object and cuts slices off for you into some type of pita bread. I wish I had a picture of the giant leg, but I was usually too scared of the Donor Kabob waiters to even look them in the eye, let alone take a photographic image of their giant hanging turkey legs and their samurai swords. They had samurai swords.
Donor Kabobs are another great thing Robker introduced me to. They are really cheap, and I enjoy that they contain only a small chance of sexual side effects and the fact that they do not taste like beaver droppings. Yummy!
I probably ate almost ten Donor Kabobs over the course of the trip. Each tasted differently, but each, like the soundtrack to the film Xanadu, saved my life.
Oh, also, I noticed that, contrary to what we have been told, the Marlboro Man did not die of cancer:

He simply moved to Germany, where he spread the 'good word' EVERYWHERE.
You cannot escape his lasso's grasp. His spurs are made of shining steel, and his heart is made of carcinogenic love.
I then wandered into another old friend, happy walking man:

Happy Walking Man, where have you been? HWM, where have you been when we needed you? Where were you when the children were crying? Where were you when our mothers fed their children with empty breasts?
Happy Walking Man, the Germans can figure out when to cross the street on their own. Happy Walking Man, it is time to come home.
Sweet Booty, surrounded by Starburst, on the hotel room leather couch:

Hatas, you can't stop this train.
Also, the toilet of the hotel was in a separate room out in the hall. After leaving our hotel room that night and taking care of something there, I walked back by the hotel dining room. An old French couple was struggling with an expensive bottle of wine and a cork-remover. The cork was busted. With my MacGyver-like ingenuity (he is my hero, after all), I busted that hateful thing open for them. They offered me some, and even though I don't like wine, I drank with them anyway. When they asked me where I was from, I told them Louisiana. They smiled, nodded, and said they had been to Mardi Gras in New Orleans. I talked to them for a while, then headed back to our room, settled deep into the black leather couch and sunk into a sweet world of aural debauchery, not knowing what the future held and not caring either way.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Germany, Day Five: "You Must Be This German to Ride."

Something became apparent to me as soon as we arrived in Berlin.
I don't look like I am from Germany. I'm about six-feet tall and have a sweet crawfish tan and dark curly hair, but the average German male is about six-foot two, is as pale as Gertrude, the moon's albino offspring,  and has straight flaxen hair, which was an evolutionary advantage when ancient Germans hid in hay bales from Trolls. In Bavaria, the southern German region where we spent our first four days, this didn't really come out.
In Northern Germany it did.
And it made me feel like crap.
Once in Berlin, Robker and Stephanie began pointing out famous German landmarks I had never heard of that had great significance to them. This made me feel even more out of place. Then I got on a bus full of pale, tall, quiet people. This made me feel like Curtis James Jackson III at The Dollar Store.
Also, the tree behind me in the above picture is a painting. There were no green trees in Berlin. There was more SNOW, though!
I started to get seriously depressed, which probably had something to do with jetlag or the fact that my money was virtually worthless, or maybe I just remembered once again that Sarah Michelle Gellar is married to Freddy Prinze Jr. and not to me. Anyway, I needed some me-time.
After dropping our stuff off at the hotel, the three of us went to downtown Berlin.
We saw what is apparently one of the world's tallest structures, this hideous tower:

I was not impressed, especially at the six euro, or 4.6 billion dollar, fee to ride to the top (I know the units seem to be changing everyday, but you have to realize, that's what the market does!..?)
After rambling around, we came across a giant Best Buy type store called Saturn. I suddenly realized a long time dream of mine.
In high school, I really dug this band called Kent. They only released one album in America, Isola, but they have plenty more albums available in Europe. I remembered that I wanted to find some of their CDs. I never bought them on the Internet because the prices are ridiculous, and buying CDs on Ebay just isn't my way.
Anyway, I found their second English language album, Hagnesta Hill, and I picked it up for cheap. The three of us went back to the hotel for a minute, and I declared that for the next two hours I was not going anywhere. The Robkers told me I could not do that, because not doing that is their way, and I do not hold it against them, but I told them that I could do that, and I would do that, and I did do that. Sometimes, I just need to chill.

I listened to 70 sweet minutes of Kent and stared out the window at the Germans. It was wonderfully therapeutic. Kent is the perfect soundtrack for Northern Europe. They sound a little like Radiohead, except leave out all the fear and paranoia and add some hope and humanity. Just kidding, Radiohead, I love you.
Oh, and of course, I left the lights off.
When the Robkers returned, the three of us took off.
I was refreshed and ready to kick Germany's ass.
That is my usual attitude toward everything, so it felt real pretty to be back.
The three of us took the train to some other part of the city. I got confused as to where because the entire city is made of cranes building new things and it is impossible to tell what is what.
I'm sorry that this entry isn't as funny as usual, but I have a new Kristen Bell wallpaper and I keep looking at it and giggling, so bear with me.
Anyway, here I am in front of a piece of the old Berlin Wall.

Look at that face. You know I am thinking that if I wanted to, I could kick all those cranes down, but I was feeling "generous," so I didn't.
We then footed it to the Reichstag, which in German means "Camel-Toe." The Reichstag is the German Capitol building. We waited in line for almost four complete months, and then were allowed in.
After a bunch of stuff I can't remember, we went up to the top. Of course, fraidy-cat twins didn't want to go up the tower portion, so I took their cameras for them and climbed by myself.
Berlin's skyline looks like this from there:

Also, the German lawmakers keep a giant metallic-spike hanging over their heads during legislation:

Those are their seats, directly below. They need one of those here in Louisiana, methinks. Especially, post 8/29/05. On second thought, maybe the U.S. government needs one of those, too. Or somebody. Seriously, we got screwed.
We caught a bus and headed back to the hotel.
This hotel is awesome. I can't remember the name of it, but it was an excellent little place. The building was really old, and the manager was this extremely friendly (but not in a " Hey, that's my no-touch place!" kind of way) Swedish lady. She had several daughters who were Kent fans, which was refreshing, and a topic of bonding. Sweet. She had the place decorated all crazy and wonderful, and I don't have room to post pictures of it in this post, but we stayed two nights, so more to come on that front.
Coming tomorrow:
"He Did WHAT to that Statue?!"
"Tales of Man/Stone-Construct Love.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Germany, Day Four: "Don't Worry, I'll Work Funny Into this One. How about a Lion made of Flowers?"

The first time I met a Jewish person, I was two weeks from my 18th birthday. I was in D.C. for some young leaders conference thing (which was one of the best experiences of my life). Anyway, there really aren't very many Jewish people in Louisiana, and I, despite rumors, am not Jewish (2017 EDITORS NOTE: Ten years after this, you take a DNA test, and you find that you are, in fact, JEWISH!!!). Therefore, while the Holocaust has always felt like a great tragedy, it has always seemed very remote--I let my geographic, genetic, and historic distance from the Holocaust somehow allow me to dehumanize the event.
In the morning, the three of us took a train to Dachau.
We visited the Holocaust museum there, set in the buildings of the WWII concentration camp. The above picture is of the memorial there. I took the picture through the window because I did not feel as if I had earned taking a naked photograph of it.
After reading and viewing most of the material and exhibits in the museum, the Holocaust's face seemed to come at me clearly from out of a fog, and it was so human, and so horrifying. Considering humans did this to 6 million other humans in a span of time so short ago that some of those who both survived and perpetrated it are still with us, we should never feel like we can take for granted that something like this won't happen again.

This is a gypsy girl, who was murdered in the gas chambers shortly after this photo was taken.
I also found this wood carving, made by a survivor, quite moving:

And then I cried.

This ends the only serious portion of the travelogue.

We rode a train back to Munich. The rest of the day was warm and marvelous, despite the below freezing weather and snowfall. We wandered around Munich fun and fancy free, free being the key word, as anything I wanted to buy cost at least five Euros, or 100 trillion dollars.
We randomaly met up with some person Robker knew, and several of this person's friends. There was this really cool Alaskan girl whose name I cannot remember that I hung out with. We were going to do something with them again, later in the day, but then we didn't because we fly solo like the Eagles...the bird kind.
We decided to go to the German Museum of Hunting and Fishing because:
A. It sounded weirdly cool.
B. It was cheap.
If you are in Munich, go to this place. The old guys who work there are really nice. Visiting the museum is like stepping through some animal-antler portal into a world of old landscapes and taxidermy. There were many paintings and photos of the fictional mountains known as the "Alps". As I've stated previously, I went to where these "Alps" were supposed to be, but they weren't there, so they don't exist. You've seen them, you say?
Nonsense. The Germans put LSD in your water and tricked you.

Here I am, going toe to toe with some stuffed savage beast. While I was in Germany, I didn't see any of these creatures actually living, so, like the "Alps", I am going to assume the Germans just made them up.
Oh, and notice how blurry the picture is? That is because Robker took it. Apparently, the Robker siblings left their crack in America and could not take a picture without shaking like monkeys deprived of heat and bananas.
After the museum, we went back to Augustiner Beerhall because we are like that (it's not every day you get to visit THE WORLD's top ranking Beerhall, and that is something I am not making up. Check the facts, dawg).
I purchased some beer that the monks brew and drink as a meal during lent. I figured that, since I could not afford an actual meal, I would try to fill up like the monks do. The beer, while quite good, did not do the job. Thankfully, Stephanie, who is a black belt in many handheld weapons arts, is in the top one-percent of the world's population in sword fighting, and is feared among mere mortals, has the approximate appetite of 3/4ths of a church mouse. So, I ate all her food when I was done with mine.

This was a delicious meal, and disproved my theory that the Germans would be better off eating their own bile than actually cooking their national cuisine. I mean, look how thick that bread is. It makes me sad that I didn't have enough money to sample what I would have liked. Next time, I will rob a bank in America beforehand, and visit Germany as a fugitive of the law.
After this meal, we hurried back to the hotel, got our stuff from the storage room the nice desklady let us use, and got on:


There is some crazy song where some guy sings "Night Train" in a really high pitched voice, and Robker kept singing it to me and making me piss myself, which I do not think the owners of the train enjoyed, as urine can be tough to get out of linen. AND WHY IS THE FONT SO BIG ALL OF A SUDDEN??!

The Robker's played a deadly game of Rock, Paper, Scissors to see who got bottom bunk, and Robker won.
Actually, that didn't really happen, but I like to think it did.
I mean, look at me:

You know I like to think it did.