These are the sum of my blog posts written while enjoying the Wolfram Residency for the whole of May 2015. Nothing has been removed. Except some images, but that's tumblr's fault. Fuck tumblr.
The posts have been edited to fit your screen.
[I haven’t figured out how to include pictures in a text post in the android tumblr app, if you know, would you tell me? i’ll just supplement with emoticons for now.] [okay, hosted pictures on imgur. emoticons stay, they've earned it]
I think you haven’t really arrived until you’re jetlag has settled. After a solid 12 hours of sleep, I think I’ve arrived in Seattle, WA.
I’m here for the Wolfram Residency to spend time on my writing, ideally to work on my novel, and I’ll also have a reading or two. This is exciting!
Also exciting, but in a different way, was getting to Seattle. I hadn’t left Europe for about 3 years; really? It’s already been that long since Buenos Aires? Geez. Well, life has it’s way of flooding you with everyday stuff. Learn to swim, see you down in the Bay Area.
I had totally lucked out on every single aspect of my flight. I paid almost half of what I had anticipated, flying Delta felt like visiting a Grandma (“Eat this. And eat that! And eat this! And drink some juice! And coffee. And eat this! And here’s some crackers and chocolate.”) and the on board entertainment system allowed me to finally watch Interstellar. Too late I realized I could also have watched the whole Hobbit trilogy (time did permit), but I mostly read Andy Weir’s The Martian, which is great.
Neither the Airport nor Homeland Security asked me to drop my pants, even though they did a good job at intimidating me with weird questions.
Mostly they seemed weirded out by my lack of luggage. Ever since I started traveling I tried to carry less and less crap around with me, and this time, for the first time, I didn’t bring any suitcase at all. All I have is my trusty Synapse 19. And a set of spare clothes. After long back and forth I even decided to leave my laptop at home and bring a bluetooth keyboard instead. In the end, here’s what I brought for my one month trip:
🎒 👕 👖 👞 ⌚📚📒📝🎹
1 set of clothes
1 extra t shirt, long sleeve, and workout shorts (because I totally intend to work out. If by working out you mean “sleep in”)
3 sets of underwear (bet you couldn’t wait to find out!)
all of it either Icebreaker or Smartwool, which means I can wash them in the sink and they’ll dry over night.
Plus my trusty mechanical pencil, notebook, medication, e-reader, and some other gimmicks like chargers, hygiene articles, Packtowl, etc. That’s it. Oh, and the keyboard, of course.
If you think that isn’t a lot of clothes, well, true dat, but it’s basically all clothes I own. I like the Idea of always wearing the same outfit, like a cartoon character, anyways. Plus nobody ever notices or gives a crap, as long as you’re clean, in my experience.
Since I’m here to write, it felt weird not to have a laptop. But now, using my smartphone plus the BT keyboard the second day full time, I’m really happy with my decision. I think i might buy a stand for my phone, but other than that the setup works flawlessly and I’m really happy to not have to carry more stuff. Yay!
The TSA guy in Amsterdam didn’t really like that idea, though. After interrogation he let me board, though. This FUD routine gets old really fast. Also, these people seem to get their training from TV shows, trying to intimidate you with whatever they do. Taking your ID with them, not telling you what they are doing, giving you long, judging looks, combined with the feeling that you’re definitely not sure to be allowed to board, it disgusts me. As someone living in a country that I wouldn’t protect from anything nor anyone, because why the fuck bother, all this border protection bullshit (which Austria as well as the EU are criminally and fascistically engaged in as well, of course) just is a hard concept for me to grasp. But well. I’m just one hair clipper and 40 kilograms away from a hippie, so what do I know.
Couple of weeks ago I read that the best way to overcome a jetlag is to simply act like you’re in the new time zone normally. Like, have a long day, then go to bed at the local bedtime. Let it be known, that this seems to be wishful thinking. At 4pm local time i simply couldn’t drink any more coffee and went to bed, waking up for an hour around 10pm and then sleeping through til 7am. So I’d now argue that there is no system, just coffee and sleep. Which is how I live without jetlag anyways, so I don’t really see room for improvement.
Today I walked a little longer, and got to enjoy the water nearby. It’s simply beautiful here. Everything is green, people are nice, coffee is plentyful and so is WiFi. And I haven’t even been downtown yet. For now I’m totally happy in Fairview, oddballing around with my lovely freak accent and eating candy bars and danishs. Oh, and to solve the mystery, what you get in the US as a Milky Way chocolate bar is called the Mars bar in Europe. I know their not vegan, but I felt I needed to make an exception for intercultural relations’ sake.
So, this is what’s happening so far.
Grand Central Bakery is just around the corner from where I live, and I already get the feeling that this will affect my life expectancy in a very negative way. I had some kind of cake today that was doused in caramel and pecan crumble. My mouth actually felt burnt after eating it. Of course I didn't stop. It actually shamed me into ordering running shoes, which should arrive tomorrow. On a SATURDAY. In some respect, being in the States makes you feel like you come from some underdeveloped banana hut. Well, technically that is accurate, but I still think there's stuff that's better in Austria. But business hours isn't it.
In other news I visited a different area of the city today, where there's some sort of gentrification-awareness-artsy-thingy going on: an old building is being restored, and used as the canvas for PorchLit, where people are invited to read poetry in front of the house. First I thought about reading "Gegen die Zeit", a poem I wrote a couple of years ago, when I still wrote poetry, but then I thought that Ingeborg Bachmann's "Eine Art Verlust" would fit phenomenally. So: I translated it in a hurry, to give Siolo some kind of impression of what it's about, then we went and recorded me speaking German. We'll use the translation for subtitles. Siolo's editing the clip right now.
Apart from I had my first bagel today, like, first free range US soil bagel, and it was awesome. There's some historians argueing that bagels are a Viennese invention, but I'll keep out of that kind of politics.
So, when I said I’d finally gotten over the time zones thing, you know, I think this was more like wishful thinking. In fact, yesterday, at a social event, I almost fell asleep sitting at the table. And that was while watching the Mayweather vs. Otherguy thing. Which was fun, by the way. I’d been invited to join a social PPV-watching of the boxing match of the century, which entailed tacos and rosé. The food, man. It’s killing me.
The hosts had prepared military supply amounts of nurishment, and I took four for the team trying to not let things spoil. Also, they had somehow gotten the idea that I was a high school exchange student and seemed surprised when I poured myself a glass of wine. It’s really funny how you have these little cultural differences that make you reflect on things. Like, in Austria there never really existed a problem with alcoholism, at least not sufficiently to have the public frown on consumption. That also made me realize how awesome the protection of non-smokers is in the US. Like seriously, I quit smoking a couple of weeks ago, and I had had a craving for it ever since. So, the night before my flight, I actually bought tobacco and rolling papers and filters and rolled a cigarette. Then I smoked it. It was an ordeal, as expected. Thing is: in those last weeks I had totally pissed of Justina with my constant bitching about how I would so love to smoke again and totally need to and aaaah and I know it’s so stupid but nnnnnngggggggg, that I decided there and then that it just wasn’t worth going through all that shit for _this_. So against my intentions when buying the shit, I left all of it at home. And hoped, it wouldn’t be too much of a problem during the flight. Well, turns out, it wasn’t a problem at all. And I think that is because of the really strict protection laws in effect here. You’re not allowed to smoke anywhere. So you rarely see people smoking. And it just that moment dawned to me, that that totally helped in not thinking about smoking. Duh. So I actually think, had I been in Vienna, I would have just picked it up again. Here it just isn’t a thing. That makes me looking forward even more to the new smoke protection laws that will be in effect in 2018.
The night before Connor took me for a walk around Lake Union, which is about 6 miles (9km). There was tons of stuff to see, most importantly baby geese and baby ducks. So yeah, that was nice.
Today I’m working on the texts for the reading event that Siolo organizes. So lots of going through old material that I would need to translate, or deciding against that in favor of newer material that is still a bit in the rough. However, I’m really looking forward to it.
Oh, and my package arrived yesterday. I ordered a couple of awesome things, or hopefully awesome things. Among them the Kikkerland international plug adapter, which I tried hunting down in Europe for years, but it would have been ridiculously expensive to import it. Now it is mine. All mine.
Also: running shoes. The walk around the lake finalized the fuckedupness of my feet, which is weird because I can’t remember ever having problem with Vivobarefoot shoes, let alone with the ones I have now. Well, now I have blisters upon blisters, and that sucks. So the new shoes won’t save me from that, because time travel, but I’m really looking forward to picking up running. I remembered this nice chart I once saw on imgur, luckily it was easy to find again.
So, let'sa go! Tomorrow. Now it’s time to eat some delicious lunch Andrew put together. The food, man.
Since it’s always in the middle of the day when I write these, I often include things that happened the day before. But having them all called “Day (x,x+1)” seems stupid. So from now on, these updates will be named after the day that I wrote them on. Which sounds like a no-brainer. Which is why it bothered me, I guess. Never get too comfortable with the unreflected decisions.
So, a lot of stuff happened, actually. I was at an art show (https://m.facebook.com/events/1044998252194168), which is a regular event by a guy who runs a print workshop to encourage people to do print workshop things. For them to be able to connect, they meet regularly in an extra room of the Seattle Asian Art Museum. Lots of people, lots of art, a bit overwhelming at first but talking to the artists make up for that. Even if I only had breath for super small conversations, because this museum is built on Capitol Hill.
Capitol Hill is the Döbling of Seattle, but less pretentious and fewer fur coats. Also, where Döbling is mostly the Viennese way of keeping people with too much money out of the streets, Capitol Hill actually has beautiful cafés, parks, businesses and a great view. It owes this great view to a lie.
Because it isn’t a hill, it’s a fucking mountain top. After a short break at base camp to enjoy the view, Siolo and I resupplied our oxygen bottles and climbed the last of the stairs.
By the way, I now officially love my new shoes. All this mountaineering should have been hell given the state my feet are in (blister, blister, little star, FUCK YOU FUCK YOU OUCH YOU HURT) but with those New Balance I bought I could walk like a normal person. Which is nice!
I visited the worlds most pretentious Starbucks house, which looks like they told the architect they would build it in Dubai. It’s like they opened up Wonka’s factory for the plebs. There’s a coffee tasting, sadly with Starbucks coffee, there’s complementary cold brew, and you can buy actual coffee makers in a kind of gift shop. It’s a great idea actually, so people will associate Starbucks with coffee.
Much more important was that I got to visit the store every nerd dreams of, even if they don’t know it yet. It’s called Ada, and it is a beautiful mix of work space, café (mmhmm.) and geek supply store. I could have spent hours there and I think I did. They have so many awesome things I would love to have in my life, but I wouldn’t want them taken away by TSA, so most of the DIY electronics are out. They have an awesome selection of books, scifi, tech support, DIY/make stuff, posters, and, of course, coffee. Well. I’ll find something that fits in my backpack.
While we were up there, I got to a FedEx thingeroo to have the Hymnos draft printed. This is the first time I’ve done so, and it feels great to have this thing in paper in my hands. I had a different reason to do it though:
I think I mentioned that at one point I decided against bringing my laptop with me, and instead relying on an external keyboard to do all of my writing. Actually I’m sure I mentioned it, I rarely talked about anything else. That’s how excited I was! The only catch is that my awesome cell phone has a really nice 5 inch display - which is great for a phone. It’s even great for writing! But it isn’t great for navigating in a 200 page document. It’s like snow shoveling with a spoon. So that’s why I needed to get a printout, and now I have that. Aw yeah.
In other writing-related news, I’m about done with the concept for the literary event that will happen here. I still need to iron a lot of things out but I have a general idea of what I’ll do. Which is nice! (I actually took a break like an hour ago, and the last thing I did before leaving the document was writing “THIS IS NOT FUNNY ENOUGH” on top of it. But I still have plenty of time to fix that.)
Today I ran. A third. I started this couch-to-30-minutes thing that I mentioned yesterday, so today it was 2 minutes of walking, 1 minute of running, repeat 7 times. Totally awesome. Next round is on Wednesday.
A discussion last night brought up a very interesting point for me, concerning why I am here and my literary choices in the last couple of months. I still need some time to process it, but it felt good. Like being on a right track. Even though that track still is one long ass walk.
The official Tumblr app is such a headache. It is apparently not meant for people who write, so the text editing function is completely useless. My biggest problem is that it doesn't let me add images to my posts. To add insult to injury, it keeps fucking with my workaround, which is embedding pictures on imgur. The app actually somehow replaces my embedded images for placeholders. Also, it does so after showing me a working preview. This is so frustrating to me. Also, I can't seem to find any other app that allows me to post to tumblr more easily. I can't really believe that what's the most pain about my mobile setup is not that I can't do any of the things that I want to do, but that an app is programmed to not let me access the websites features, while the website is programmed to not be usable from my mobile device.
All Quiet On The Western Coast. During breakfast today I realized that I actually hadn’t left the house in over 24 hours. While this isn’t that weird of a thing for me in Vienna, it did kinda feel like a waste of valuable Seattle time. But I did get some writing done, and since I actually am here for that purpose, I guess it’s okay. Let’s just not do this too often, okay?
Writing means: I am working on a story that will be presented at a dinner event this May. It will be based upon a story that I wrote about a year ago, but ENHANCED. With cartoon characters that step into poopie and new special effects. Because back then I didn’t really have the technology to write the story that I actually want to write. Happy belated May the Fourth, everyone. Also, happy Cinco the Mayo. In fact, just have a great May and let’s be done with this, right? People have work to do here. So far 3 of 5 days of this months were either holidays or celebration. At least holidays don’t mean EVERYTHING IS CLOSED as it would in Austria.
Today I did leave the house for a nice little walk, and apart from that, I continued to work on the story I just mentioned. I still haven’t gotten around to working on Hymnos, which patiently lurks in my room. But it’s only been a week since I’ve been here and – Whaaaaaaaaaaa? It’s already been a week! Well, at least my pants still fit, so far. Which reminds me, tomorrow is my second run. My legs totally striked today.
I already posted about the nuisance that is working with the tumblr editor, so please apologize if some images won’t work. Also, if you know how to work around the fact that the editor randomly exchanges hrefs to placeholder images, even when copy pasted, let me know. Also if you know of a tumblr app that allows adding images to text posts, that would make me sooooo happy.
Take care, and happy May.
Busy writing. Next step: creating a start up - I guess! After reheating our discussion Siolo and I made something like a bet, because she doesn't believe that the market dynamics in Austria are that different from those in the States - so while she will create a one time project for a German market, I will create one for the US market, and we'll see how we'll fare. Deadline is May 2016. It's on.
I've been working on the concept for the zine that will be part of the event this May, and I hope to get in touch with local artists to maybe do illustrations.
Apart from that, today I met the squirrel of the house, who is super cute! He barked at me, or something. Sounded vicious. I fed him peanuts. Hopefully I can trick him into coming with me to Europe. Then I'll snatch his passport and make him work for me. I'm just really not sure what line of work suits squirrels. Maybe it could roll a beer can. Or keep Django busy while Justina and I go for groceries.
I'm reading "The Girls of Riyadh" now by Rajaa Alsanea - so far it's a very well done version of Sex and the City, but in Saudi Arabia. I really like the narrative, and the idea of presenting the stories in an news group e-mail format. But I'm only at around 25% yet.
Yesterday I _finally_ finished the PorchLit recording. I translated a poem by Ingeborg Bachmann, "Eine Art Verlust" to English, "A Kind Of Loss", and I had originally planned to have the translation as subtitles, to keep the original sound and language - but I felt that would sound weird, and it did; especially since the project is about gentrification and space for art - I felt it would be more appropriate to read the translated version instead of bandwaggoning as a tourist writer. Well, but I'm totally happy with the result now. Here's the original poem in German and my translation to as a PDF. (Creative commons share alike, dooday, dooday, do not sell, please attribute, dooday dooday yay!)
For the last two days I felt really weirdly blue, I figured it might've been because of the gap in taking my meds when flying to the states-it always takes a time for them to kick in, as in, a couple of days, and if I skip one it also some time to show the effects.
I had this constant feeling of awkwardness, of being odd out, which I usually like to fight by hiding under a blanket and cuddling up with J and/or Django. Neither of them were available so I just felt shitty and listened to Carl Sagan explaining the universe. I always keep all episodes of Cosmos as MP3s on my phone, so that I can listen to them when things get me down. It always calms me to think of how tiny all of us are and how absolutely not important and insignificant and that we will all die- wait, that's not at all what calms me about that. Maybe it's just Carl's voice. And the faint hope that "if we do not blow ourselves up, we might one day venture to the stars."
In effect I then try to not blow up my problems, have some chocolate and wait for the blues to pass while watching videos of cute animals.
Also it was a great opportunity to introduce the Family to my chocolate cake. I couldn't get white chocolate for decoration, so I added Reese's Pieces instead. The result is a chocolate cake with a peanut butteresque ganache that is so chocolaty and rich, it is almost inedible. And that is generally what I'm aiming for with cake, to make you work for it. I learned that trick from the tobacco industry: They make you work for liking cigarettes because they taste totally yuck, but they do give you that chocolaty creamy nicotine high. Who wouldn't want that.
That's why I always make sure to include just a little hint of cocaine with the baking soda. It's a good thing.
Interestingly we also all feel hyper productive today! Siolo and I had a meeting over coffee and a danish to set some dates and deadlines, and now I feel comfortable and productive. And on the weekend we'll go visit some flea markets.
Shoutout to Nathan Barry, he's totally right about that app thing. But if you do find yourself on a different continent writing on an android device, I recommend Jota+ for writing. And WPS for layout. I'll use both of them a lot this weekend.
(Picture is me during the recording at the porch of 12th Av and King St, taken by Siolo)
It's a beautiful sky in Seattle today, but there's miles of clouds between us.
So, what happened since my last update: I finished writing the story that I'll present at the reading/dinner that Siolo organizes; today will be about going over the text, editing, refining, spellchecking. After that, the rest of the week is reserved for building the zine that will be the physical evidence of me having been here. It was either that or cut my name in some old tree, and TSA didn't let me bring a knife. (Also, fuck people who cut their names in trees. Cut it into your arm, idiot. Or what, you're more scared than a 13 year old emo kid? Geez. Leave the tree alone.)
I'm still impressed how all of this is possible with the technology I have at my disposal. I typed all of it on this bluetooth keyboard, directly into my phone, and only needed to use a different computer to print it out so I can start editing. Really, the only thing that I think could be enhanced with this setup is the screen size; a 5 inch display is big enough to write, but navigating in a document remains a pain. That and the fucked up tumblr-android-app.
Yesterday I bought weed! I can say this, because it IS LEGAL IN SEATTLE! I did it in a STORE. To be more specific, it was Ganja Goddess, which I recommend, should you visit Seattle. A bouncer checks your ID at the entrance as you do have to be 21 or older, but then it's like being in some kind of well organized computer store. There's people who help you choose, different brands, methods and styles, cookies, equipment, it is so surreal! I actually caught myself whispering to the (really very accomodating) employee, when an extremely calm couple next to me said "oh, it must be his first time! It's okay, it's all okay here."
No part of the interaction takes place in a dark alley, you don't have to deal with shady friends of friends, the person selling you the drugs isn't asking for a joint immediately after selling it to you, heck, I PAID WITH MY CREDIT CARD. FOR WEED. WITH A CREDIT CARD. FOR WEED.
If it was like this everywhere, I would have done this soooo much earlier. Maybe that last sentence isn't something legislators in Austria should hear.
Oh, I'm sure you kept wondering why I didn't update about my forming running habit: It isn't, as I am sure you smugly assumed, that I gave up, it is just nothing to eventful at the moment. I find it very hard to keep up with the pace of the Couch-to-5-Kilometers approach, and decided to take it down a notch until I feel at least somewhat comfortable with the running, but whenever xkcd.com updates, I'm out there.
Sunday I went to the Fremont vintage market, which is really great. I didn't find any dinosaur jewelry, but an awesome button that says "'That's what.' - She".
Life is good.
Last night Siolo took me to Pioneer Square Saloon, where this weeks Drink and Draw was held. Drink and Draw is a weekly gathering of visual artists, who then network, doodle around, cooperatively work on drawings, and drink (alcoholic) beverages.
Sporting my usual ignorant attitude, I had just understood something something drinking drawing, and expected that we’d meet at some friends home, on the couch, maybe five people or so, but well, this isn’t Neubau, Dorothy.
So here’s the deal: there were not five, but twenty-five artists, all of them were (talking technique) amazing, and I only had to endure one philosophical debate that could even have been avoided had I not insisted on sitting at the European table. It was people having fun, in an constructive environment, doing what I think they like doing - drawing, that is. There were a couple of first timers, warmly greeted, and even though I did the über-hipster thing of being the only kid that didn’t draw anything, nobody tried to give me the “oh but everybody is an artist, just try to draw” hippie routine, which I appreciate sooooo much.
(Here's some of last night's drawings. Check 'em out!)
So, yeah, that happens every Wednesday at varying locales. All I was ever invited to in Vienna was Philosophy Stammtisch.
Apart from that I spend my days writing, and tinkering with what will be the Candela zine. Looking forward to page counting and outsmarting printers. Actually I think I can do all of that with WPS office, even though it’s a bit painful. But it is technically possible, which still hasn’t seized amazing me.
I want to have it done on Monday to take a couple of issues to the Open Stage at Hugo House.
Even though a lot of things happened, I have to keep this brief because I yet again managed to procrastinate myself into something here.
Tonight I'll try to get a spot and slot at Hugo House open stage, reading some piece or another (Slots are 5 minutes each, I don't know how many people will try to get one)
Also I need to finish a lot of zines until then, yay! At the Artist and Craftsman Supply (www.artistcraftsman.com) I bought beautiful paper that I use for the cover. People there were so awesome, I mean it's not hard to beat Vienna's Boesner in customer service, simply not being spat at already goes quite a way, but the employees were great, helped me measure out the 22x30inch sheets, I luckily bought one extra, that I will totally need because I suck at math: for the future: sufficient area does not suffice by itself. You can't defragment sheets of paper. Apparently. Pfeesh. So instead of the theoretical 13.8 covers I only get 9 actual covers out of one sheet. Which is still good enough. Cutting and glueing is, by the way, so much more fun than book binding itself. Especially if you only have a traveler's sewing kit at your disposal. I mean, I could try to find a nail and hammer to make the hole-punching easier, but then I couldn't bitch about how hard it is to do this with only one traveler's sewing kit, right? Right.
Yesterday Siolo took me to West Seattle and especially Puget Sound, and among other things I learned that there is a thing called a sound, which is something like a fjord, but somehow different. There isn't even a German Wikipedia page on sounds. Really, go NOT look it up!
I spent the last 30 minutes building a web shop, which actually worked just fine! I still need some work to build it into my website. But then I'll finally be in the eBook-business. What formats do you need? Is PDF, ePub and mobi enough for a start?
Well, if it isn't, let me know.
I don't have time to fuck around with tumblr right now, so why don't you just follow me on instagram or facebook for updates and beautiful images of my Seattle adventures?
Have a good one, f
What never fails to amaze me about the US - by which I of course mean Seattle, given that I haven't really been anywhere else yet - is how everything is built around cars.
When european cities - most of them, at least - where built, there were no cars. There weren't even people, just some weird goofy dirty guys with hoes and pitchforks, and they just built huts, not houses. But then they became more and more and the city grew. And unless a witch lived in one, you could never simply burn down one house to remodel your city. It was just bad practice. So when people, about fifty years later, realized that women could vote and cars are fun, what happened was that they just decided that they will have to not use the cars in the city. Because there is no room for them. There is no room for highways with eight lanes, or for drive-through banks, or drive-through coffee shops, or drive-through tattoo parlors, and there's not enough room for grocery stores to have their own little parking lots.
I'm sure that is the actual reason why George Washington started the United States. He was a lazy prick and wanted to have drive-throughs everywhere. So when cities were built, people were like "WE NEED MORE STREETS! BIGGER STREETS! MORE." and that's what happened.
And I get all that. It makes sense. But what surprises me more than anything is that the bathroom stalls are also built with cars in mind. The doors usually are hung so high that you can change a tire while taking a dump, and there is always enough room for at least a Smart.
When I grew up playing games like Deus Ex I always thought that the level designers were lazy when designing the bathrooms in those apartments, but it turns out they were just sticking to the facts. I've seen stalls bigger than my flat in Vienna. Sometimes the Stall will be bigger than the actual venue. There's golf courses, news paper stands, the only thing they don't have is a door that would give you something akin to privacy.
I get that people are weirded out by the weird German toilets that let you examine your... shit... before flushing, but you have to realize that this is weird coming from people who live in a place where stalls are built to house your family while you take a dump.
What I'm trying to convey is, I was standing in this oversized bathroom in Hugo House, thinking that I could still get out of here. I could still run away and not go on stage and nobody would know or care. I was so incredibly nervous. The day had been going okay-ish, but then I realized that the text I wanted to present was WAY too long for the strict 5 minute slot that they have, and I freaked out. Swearingly I cut out about a third of the story, the time ticking in my head and on my watch, if I was to arrive too late I wouldn't make it into the first round where your slot is guaranteed, and all of this might be for nothing, that's what was in my head. I wanted to call someone and cry a bit, but it was 5 pm here, that is 2 am in Vienna, nobody's awake. But that also was two hours ago. Now I was stuck in this bathroom, my name in the lottery jar to be called at any minute.
I decided to drink a beer. I am not too good with beer, as in, I tend to overdo drinking it, and then I'm all drunk and perform really badly on stage - or anywhere else, for that matter - but my breathing yoga bullshit didn't work, so I had to, to get my heart rate down somehow.
Then I listened to the writers who came before me, I was suprised how high the quality was, this was open mic, after all, and I felt even more uncertain.
I'm telling you all of this - well, the last couple of paragraphs at least - because I read this beautiful thing the other day: "Don't compare your Behind The Scenes with other people's Director's Cut."
Eventually I was up and went on stage, a bit tipsy, and also feeling high, which was odd, because I hadn't smoked weed myself, which made me realize: Now that we've gotten rid of cigarette smoking in establishments, might second hand intoxication become a thing? Did someone next to me smoke a blunt and I just didn't realize it but inhaled it all the same?
I started reading my story, and I got even more laughs than I had hoped. People seemed to love it. Which feels awesome. All of my worrying had been - suprise - totally unnecessary. I could have just gotten the job done without being a chickenshit.
After all had read, I talked to a couple of writers, and many complemented me on my story. When the third person told me that it was one of the best of the night, I had to tell them that while I really appreciate that and it will help me masturbate later, I totally don't believe it.
But the crowd, man. Almost all of them writers, many published, and it just felt so positive and constructive. People of all ages, heck, even people from Austria were welcome. If you find yourself in Seattle, go there, listen and watch, you will have a great time. And if you are a writer, go there and read, and get your pat on the back. I am very glad to hear that the next Hugo House Works in Progress will be on June 1st, while I'm still in town.
After all of that I got really drunk with a couple of fun writers, where we discussed politics and economics and big dicks. Fun was had.
Yesterday two of Siolos friends and I helped her getting packages ready for shipping. It was, I'm kind of glad to say, the first day since I arrived where I didn't do any writing. Glad because that means every other day I have been writing, also glad because I actually did scribble a little bit on this treatment I've been sketching out, which I'm very excited about. In short, my next bigger project will have to do with illegalized migration. I'm still at the level of research and well, treatment-writing, but that is what is going to happen.
Also it was a great way of meeting two awesome people, which is always great.
One of the topics that came up in between deep socioeconomic insights and totally-not-okay jokes was the topic of gender. Now, after a long personal struggle (that justifies it's own post) as a bane to some of the people who ever published German texts I wrote, I am one of those dicks insisting on writing "gendered".
In German, this is pretty easy, even though you can bring it to absurd forms because German grammar is prone to overcomplications anyway and basically just a train wreck of people who want to save ink by using fewer sentences, thereby saving on points and sometimes subjects and even objects. Where in English you basically have "this" and "that", German splits them in "jenes", "dieses", "welches", "das", "selbes", "selbiges" and plenty of others, all of which are just ways of one day being able to have the iTunes EULA written in one single 500 page sentence.
Surprisingly, when it comes to addressing multiple genders, things are rather easy. You just add some form of inclusive gender indicator to your noun. Lehrer (grammatically male teacher) becomes Lehrer*innen (meaning "teachers male, female and everything in between").
Now when it comes to referring to a person who actually doesn't identify with either male or female is more difficult. In English you simply say "they" instead of "him" or "her". ("Hans was different though, because they liked their coffee with cream.")
Now, I've been speaking German for quite some time, but I don't know of any solution as easy in German. The ones I did find online included word constructions which for me were incompatible with speech. As in, they would include an asterisk or shit. While I'd be fine doing this in writing, it creates a conflict of interest for my reading business.
So, how do German speaking people who don't identify with a specific or single gender want to be addressed and/or referred to? Is there some sort of consens?
I spent all night thinking about this, so if you have recommendations or a kind slap on the virtual wrist telling me what obvious thing I have overlooked, have at me.
In more capitalistic news, I want to present the thing that makes my life so much better, I bought in the states: the Daffodil foldable stand. It's a little plastic ... thing... that holds your phone or tablet so that you can use it as a screen more easily. No more leaning your phone at the coffee mug, no more stiff necks.
If you travel with a smartphone and intend to get writing done, or simply watch movies while sitting at a table or desk: this mofo is your friend.
When I bought the ticket to come to the States, two things bothered me. One was the entering of the country, so far had my aversion for the atrocities committed by the US government, the detaining of innocent people, the mass surveilance of even it’s own citizens, Bush pushing moral decay and his successor not bringing the change anticipated, frightened me, so much that I felt the need to delete the search history on my phone, which contained mostly lesbian porn, obviously, I never got why I would want to watch other folk’s huge dicks when jacking off. The other was the different, more real fear, of doubling my weight, because donuts.
Now, the first fear sustained only partially, when the officers in Amsterdam interrogated me, not believing that this small backpack could possibly contain everything that I was to bring on a one month trip, and also, why a whole month? A day’s enough to see Space Needle, I was told. “Oh, I get it, you’re having intimate relations with the person you’re staying with? No. I would not let a friend stay at my house for a month”
There are things that’d make you laugh, which comes difficult when you feel like you are judged for the crime of existing. Thing is: as soon as you have passed the people who need to get laid, badly, when you had your genitals looked at through the pervert body scanner, and your passport has been eyed with disgust, eventually you enter a land of smiles which are unheard of in Vienna.
Siolo put it perfectly: while it is apparently totally okay for strangers to stare at you in Vienna, answering with a smile is frowned.
Viennese mostly smile only if they are actually tourists or when they figured out how to finally get their revenge without being caught. I think that a big part of Viennese misery might be perpetuated through the act of people looking at you as the shit both of you are.
The other fear that was only asserted was that I would need to be careful to be able to fit through my flat’s door when I get back. As I mentioned in a post a couple of… time… ago, I border at what I call the H&M barrier. That is, I sometimes find clothes that fit my fat ass in H&M, but not always. Yet, back when I wrote that, I was on the other side of the barrier. I would always find something at H&M, but only their biggest sizes would fit. What happened?
Pizza happened, idiot. Pizza and donuts and Cream and Gnocchi ala Gorgonzola. Lots and lots of Gnocchi. And donuts. I ate them all. I engulfed them. I went full Abu Ghraib on everything that was covered in chocolate and/or cheese. I waterboarded myself with ice cream.
You do that for half a year, there’s no end of the things your body will do to you. Carefully it smiled at me, plotting it’s revenge, until suddenly I had to go buy pants at C&A, like the fat fuck I had become yet again.
The new barrier I told myself I wouldn’t cross was the One X. Not a brand, this time, but I knew things would go bad if I ever again needed a double X T-Shirt for anything else than making my bed.
I realized I had to do something. This wasn’t going to be pretty, either, but then again neither would I feel if I’d keep up these atrocities against my waist. So, as seems only natural, I started running. Running from my problems always had an endearing ring to it, you don’t actually change something, you actually acknowledge it’s existence and right to be, but you just decide that you can no longer share a space with it. So that’s what I did, I started running. Problem is, all these things people shouldn’t eat, they weighed me down. So even if running still feels like a way to go, I realized this wouldn’t change neither fast enough for my squirrelesque attention span nor would I ever actually lose weight without changing my diet.
So here’s what I did. I installed MyFitnessPal, told it my approximate weight, height, gender, for some reason that is important to measure your fatfuckitude, apparently, and now I count calories.
This is actually a lot less of a hassle than anticipated. But jeez, this thing tells me I should eat only about 2000 calories a day. If you are a normal person, that is what you normally eat on a day. According to the app, I would need about 2800 calories a day to sustain my weight, and I simply _know_ that I was gaining it by the minute, so I assume I ate at the very least 3000 calories per day. And that was me sometimes saying no to myself. There already was a consciousness for overeating in me, I already knew that I should only have one bucket of ice cream, or only two sandwiches, but I never did the math. And now I am, in a way, shocked. The only aspects I ever really believed would change for the better when being less meat were that I’d need less room in my backpack for clothes, and that more people would want to sleep with me. Since I did my time I don’t really care for the latter anymore, I’m okay with the amount of people in the world who want to sleep with me, but I still love the idea of wearing, I don’t know, M sized clothes? I never in my life bought an M sized T-shirt. I wonder how that feels. I bought an L once, only once, when I was at my peak slimness about two years ago. It is now used by my girlfriend when she sleeps over. I could maybe use it as a hat or a weird scarf.
So, for me being in Seattle, to get this post at least a little bit back on track, is the first real time off I have since a long time. By time off I mean time off of daily grind, time where almost nothing disturbs my indulgence and “creativity”, where I can post every other day, and write about things, read, socialize, basically, live my life almost the way I would if what I did already paid my bills.
This sounds like a great opportunity to change things. To reevaluate positions. To make totally not okay jokes about torture by UK and US troops. Well, maybe not so much. Memorial Day’s coming up, after all.
But I do wonder about things. What keeps me doing this is mostly self control, of which I traditionally have none. But the step that the calorie counting app provides helps immensely. It’s now mostly psychological, for example, today I woke up not hungry at all. Usually the time when I wake up is the time when I eat breakfast. When I felt hungry, a couple of hours later, I ate a measured amount of oats with soy milk, where, without the calorie counteroo, I would have eaten at least double that amount, maybe more. There’s no pain in this at all, it just feels odd. As in “whoa, really, that’s enough? I never knew!” because that is it. I never knew how to eat correct amounts. I never learned that. I always went with the approach Louis CK summed up perfectly in this bit about his eating habits that you should watch right now.
So yeah. The new thing, apparently, is the “Don’t call Delta for an extra seat” barrier. I shall not cross it.
Well, I guess you can stop wondering what Leprechauns are doing at the other end of the rainbow. The Irish people, being the first to be given the opportunity to show whether they are as mentally stuck in the trees as their elected representatives, And, by what counts as a good margin, they are not as hill billed as poll hunters believe.
In fact, they apparently see little wrong with people getting married, even if the two people involved should happen to not be of varying sex.
So, here’s the thing, rest of Europe: you have just been one-upped by the country that almost died out because of putting all it’s trust in potatoes. Let that sink in for a second. Let it burn. All citizens, think about the implications. You (quite possibly) live in a country that is governed by people more homophobic than some remote island dwelling folks who infected the world with U2. (Not to say that U2 is homophobic, that is the one bullshit they’re perhaps not guilty of)
I am sure that the inhabitants of many countries are in fact not as hick as their governments. And that, for me, breeds hope.
Of course, now people in other countries feel like they should totally also do the same thing. And of course, their governments say things like “oh, no, I’m sorry, we can’t let you do that, because we don’t really believe that this is good for this country” - And what you should answer is: “Who the fuck asked you about your opinion? Why the fuck are you in office? Who the hell even voted for you? Next time, I will make sure that my vote doesn’t end up on your pile of outdated anti-human hate-spreading propaganda little shit of a party!”
And that is how we get out of this.
I woke up to the sound of the front door. I was all alone. Siolo and Andrew left early for her show in Portland tonight, I decided that I’d stay in Seattle. Maybe it was some sort of guilt that I haven’t seen all that much so far. I haven’t looked at any museums, almost no exhibitions, only attended a handful of artist and writer gatherings, mainly, I think, for two reasons.
One is, for sure, my complacency. I am happy doing what I do. I love writing at different places of the world, but, to some extent, it simply doesn’t matter all to much where you put me. If I have a notebook, or my trusty bluetooth keyboard, I will write stuff, I will read stuff, I will eat cookies, and I will age. This has become my standard of living, and most things don’t really get into the way of that.
When I was in Buenos Aires, three years ago, people were surprised that I spent the whole month in one city, and didn’t travel about South America, as you apparently do. You know, I could’ve done that, sure. I can’t give you a special reason why I didn’t. But there was no calling in me. The only calling I ever hear is the one that tells me to get out of Vienna. And I don’t even hate it there. But I’d prefer a place at the sea. Or at a lake.
Now, here - that is in Seattle - I live in a lovely house in Eastlake, which is called that because it is east of a lake, Lake Union to be specific. Even on the days I basically didn’t leave the house, I tried to at least once be at the lake and read, if only for a little bit.
What totally throws me out of my routine, of my productivity, is everything that isn’t that. I am really bad with jobs, I mean, I do them, and some I even like doing. I don’t have that much of a choice since I need to pay bills somehow; still, my goal is to spend all day writing, reading, eating cookies and going to the lake, or sea, or ocean, respectively.
Wait, I said something about two reasons, right? I usually do that, that I think of something that I want to explain, and then I’ll add one point to it even though I have no idea what else would be worth mentioning. I think it’s like this thing that teenagers do when boasting. Maybe it’s a little challenge I like to put to myself, when I say, well, cookies are good because chocolate and sugar, but then I would write “So here are my three reasons why cookies are awesome” and then I’d start writing about how chocolate is in cookies, and then next up: that sugar is in cookies, and then I’d be like “fuck, what else is good about cookies?” and I’d write something like “Oh, what is great about cookies is that they can be transported easily!” and I’ll just hope that everybody will nod along and say “yes, I never thought about it that way, that is totally right. What a smart person. I really like to have sex with smart people.” or something, your results may vary. So, this time, this totally fucked me over, because other than my complacency I really can’t think of any good reason why I’m not riding a Llama to Alaska right now.
Thing is: today, for the first time since coming here, I started working on Hymnos, the novel I am writing which is I wanted to come to Seattle in the first place. I wanted to work on the draft I brought with me, and I didn’t do that at all until now. There was always so much else I wanted to do. There was the Candela reading to prepare - it still is to prepare, actually. Saturday’s the day! There was the amazing evening at Hugo House. I got so much input in my time here, and I started a lot of things that now feel important, as if they’d lead somewhere. All of this is good. Actually, no. All of this is great. Alll of this is stuff I want to take with me. That I want to incorporate, build upon, think about.
So, I had this great idea of a cutback that will help me fix a lot of holes and problems I have with the narration in Hymnos. I spend months simply writing and rewriting old ideas, and this, for the first time since, feels like a fresh, new idea. Another thing concerns my website and web store, which is not yet online but being planned. I feel like I travelled here with a bag of dots and a sharpie, and just started squiggling about. And suddenly, those dots seem to connect. This might not sound as exciting to you as it does to me, but remember, we’re talking about a guy who is totally happy when he has a body of water and cookies close. Go figure.
Also, today is the first day that Andrew and Siolo didn’t cook amazing food, because they are in a different city. So I got to buy potatoes and pinto beans and cook myself. I can’t really shake the feeling I’m only wasting ingredients, but pinto beans with potatoes: awesome.
Yesterday the Candela dinner party happened. This was a big deal for me, and it was a wonderful evening. Siolo and Andrew spent the better part of two days in the kitchen, preparing the four course meal that accompanied the four parts of the story, they had also developed three unique (and awesome) longdrinks to represent the three characters of the story.
The guests brought THC edibles, as you do in Seattle, and wine. Pages from an atlas were used as place mats.
Of course, being the awkward person that I happen to be, it took me one or two “Bernards”, rye, rhubarb, with infused smoke (!) and a “Lucy”, coconut milk, lemon, vodka, to find my calm - when we took our seats and the first part of Candela was read, which was then celebrated with the first course.
Just at sunset we took a little walk to hear the third part of the story at Lake Union. I was a bit nervous, people ate slower than I had thought, but the ten or so minutes we were “late” were just what the sky needed to fill itself with all that beautiful kitsch.
A couple of things made this night special for me, apart from the obvious, which are the magnificent hosts, the wonderful guests, the edibles and the tofu mousse au chocolat - one was that I usually there is no time for me to interact with other people in the middle of a story. I always switched from being the evening’s entertainment to being the guy trying not to get too drunk. This was interesting. I still have to think about whether there are any implications or if it was just that.
Which was another experiment. The middle ground of drinking because after all, this is a dinner party, but not becoming drunk, because I still needed to be able to read out loud. It seemed prudent to skip the chocolate mint weed bon bons, which are called “Bon Bombs” (and I still can’t wrap my head around the fact that they didn’t call them “Bong Bons”) until all my functions for the evening had been finished.
The other thing was that we had called for participation in the event, not only by asking people to bring various intoxicants, but also by asking them to share a story of a opportunity they missed. I was really afraid that this would result in cheesy awkwardness: it did not. The opposite, actually, it proved to be a great way of bonding and of having people talk about themselves. We did offer a potentially less revealing alternative, which was to tell us what dish would best describe your vices. Maybe it was the wine, maybe it was the THC, but every one present shared a piece of their personal life, and it was very beautiful. No homo.
Of course, after most guests had left, I thought it a good idea to empty all the already opened wine bottles, which resulted in a huge hangover that I am still fighting.
Now that my time here soon comes to an end, I spent the time that I lay in bed today to reflect on the things that I experienced, and also thought about what things I want to take with me.
Well, there’s a couple of things. First and foremost, I now have feedback by people in the US about my writing; and experiencing Siolo work also taught me a lot about a professional approach to art.
This really boosts my confidence in marketing to non-German speaking countries in the future. Expect a web shop soon.
The rest, also concerning my choice of “gear” for this trip, I’ll write about in the next couple of posts. I have two more full days here. Tomorrow’s another open mic session at Hugo House, which I am looking forward to; and on Tuesday Siolo, Seb and I will finally go to the Ocean. Fuck yes.
This is why you bring ear plugs. It makes the world a lot easier to ignore.
(Yes kids, this is the boring post about material objects that I used while here. Skip unless you’re interested in minimalistic travel)
The most mundane part of what I learned in my month here was that just because other people recommend gear, it doesn’t mean it works perfect for your specific needs.
Extra power: On of the things that fell short quite soon was the HooToo tripmate. While it is the smallest and most awesome WiFi router, it’s 3000mAh battery bank just wasn’t enough to power my phone. I bought a much more bulky and heavier 20000mAh power bank, and haven’t had any problems since. This might not have been a problem had I brought a USB extension cord or a laptop, but since I did all of my computing, writing, podcast listening, research, camera-ing, photo editing, uploading, calendaring, chatting, texting, recording, website editing and imgur browsing on my phone, the usually really nice battery of my Moto G2 was empty usually twice a day. Having a battery bank that refilled it exactly once just didn’t cut it.
Shoes: I bought a pair of New Balance running shoes here, and while they don’t look nearly half as nice as my beatiful Vivobarefoot, they simply are a lot more comfortable when walking for half a day. But your milage might vary greatly depending on how much donuts you usually eat per hour. (Barefoot running, while great for your feet, doesn’t really give the support a fat fuck’s feet apparently need)
Jeans: Okay. So, point proven. You can survive with only one pair of jeans for a month, given that you have access to a washing machine. This was the only piece of clothing that I couldn’t really wash in the sink. Also: depending on the weather, jeans might simply be too warm.
CSL Ultra Slim: Special props go to my bluetooth keyboard. I charged it the day before I left Vienna, and it’s still working flawlessly. Also, since I lack a laptop I could put stickers on, it was nice to be able to put them on the back of the keyboard. This one is from CSL, but I have seen the same design under various company names.
By the way, many Android apps would benefit greatly from supporting more keyboard shortcuts.
Earplugs: I only needed them once, when I was home alone and the home security system started to beep. Since I didn’t know how to turn it off I was very grateful to have a way of ignoring it.
Packtowl ultralight, L: I love how small and light this is, but after using it for more than two days it starts to smell, badly. This isn’t that much of a problem because I washed something in the sink every day anyways, so I just made a habit of soaping it up every other day. It dries almost instantly, really, it’s ridiculous, and once you’ve gotten used to the texture it does the job very well. Still, I will look for alternatives.
Well, if I can think of anything more, I’ll update it here.
From Seattle, the airplane took me roughly the distance to the earth core, yet landed me safely in Amsterdam. By then I had slept far too little and started being very, very grumpy. At least four times—distinctly remembered—I almost shouted at some person to shut the **** up and shove their stupid phone up their ***. I’m glad I didn’t, since I actually don’t care that much, and shouting and airports reportedly don’t mix.
First thing in the air I checked whether this entertainment system also had the Hobbit trilogy in it’s database, as I had noticed too late into the flight to Seattle that I would’ve had enough time to watch all three of those; it did, and I tried, I really tried. But honestly, it only convinced me even more that Peter Jackson just shouldn’t be allowed to make movies. I have to admit that I couldn’t take more than five minutes of this Pokémon on meth, but what I saw was a ridiculous blur of colors with horrible shots. The opening sequence of the Hobbit should be shown during turbulences, so that people realize how much worse it all could be. I may be alone in the world with this, but I really hated the visuals.
My last days in Seattle had been a weird mix of rest and action. I didn’t make it to what would have been my second Hugo House reading, but I did get some writing done. There’s solace in that. In fact, for the first times in weeks, certainly since I arrived in Seattle, I had ideas concerning my novel Hymnos. And I got into this lovely flow of writing, that is not just filling pages for material, but is actually exciting and new, what I guess you could call inspiration. I try not to rely on it too much, but when it hits, I appreciate it a lot.
Also, on the final day of my trip, we finally made it to the ocean. Siolo, Seb, Klint went on a road trip, after a couple of hours we arrived at a nice little trail that led to the shore. Errmergerd. I was remotely aware of the beauty of Washington State, but come on, this is cheating at Instagram. We even tried climbing a couple of unclimbable rocks, that is, all but me succeeded, while a mental barrier (or the fact that I was sober) kept me thinking about all the limbs I could break, whether I could board a plane with a cast. It seems that my companions were at least half ibex though. Jumping and frolicking around what to me looked like certain death, while I couldn’t help but think that just because some rock step supports them, it wouldn’t necessarily mean that it supports me.
But even though my sense of self preservation and being chicken barred me from climbing some ancient gravel, the sight that the Pacific held was breath taking on it’s own right. Seals, whales, eagles; trees that’d give even Ewoks saudade, and the waves crushing restlessly against the shore. I took pictures, but they, as words, fail.
The flight to Amsterdam went over Greenland, which had the perk of not really having a night at this time of the year. The sun never set until I was back in Vienna. Justina and Django picked me up from the airport, the taxi driver insisted that he wouldn’t let a dog enter his car, and so a lovely train ride back downtown offered at least a little shuteye. Not enough to have me sleep through the rest of the day, but I was just happy to not see things.
And thus my trip to Seattle was over. The counting of days no longer makes sense to uphold, while all of the people I was fortunate enough to meet, all those encounters, moments, ideas, Ben&Jerry’s, echo vocally through my mind. For all of this, I am incredibly grateful. As for my hosts, Siolo, Andrew and Connor, I can’t even begin to explain how awesome they have been to me. What I am certain of though is that my experiences will guide me for years to come. There is no better feeling than that. Also, the chocolate cookie dough core ice cream is nice.