Friday, June 29, 2007

The Look

I fell in love today, and I don't even know her name.

I was going through my normal morning routine: Strolling down the road to my favorite supermarket, I grabbed a bottle of carbonated water and a little multi-vitamin fruit juice thing. Got to stay healthy. Next stop is the fruit stand on the corner, run by this very charming and happy Turkish man. Grabbing an apple I start to make my way back to the pick-up point when I see a cafe that offers cheap cappoccinos. Naturally, I was intrigued. I sit down and start munching on my Royal Gala apple when the waitress appears.

Simultaneously, I think a dove flew somewhere in Tibet.

We locked eyes. I knew that if I said anything, we were going to get married. I did say something, but all that came out were spastic body movements. Literally, I didn't say a word... but just kind of convulsed. I don't know how she felt. She must have felt the electricity in the air. I could taste it. It tasted sweet.

She walked away, after I blurted out "cappoccino." But I saw her turn around. I swear she did. After that, I knew I couldn't talk to her. I'm not ready to get married. I'm too young. It's not our time. Soon. But not yet.

Have you ever had this happen? For some reason, not being able to break eye contact with a complete stranger? You may try to cast glance astray, but due to the reverse polarity, you are drawn back in.

Dear Waitress: I am sorry I couldn't speak. I can usually talk. Thanks.


Thursday, June 28, 2007

I helped my buddy Murdoch move into his new apartment today. It started like any other day: I awakened to the chatter that fills my 40 bed dormroom each and every morning. Fumbling for my cell phone to check the time (watches are obsolete), I realized that it was exactly 15 minutes before my alarm was set to go off. Dammit. That's not long enough to fall asleep again and not short enough to just jump out of bed. So I lie there, catatonic, staring at the bottom of the top bunk above me. Let's jump ahead...
So we're moving all Murdoch's stuff in with the help of some of his girlfriend's friends. After finishing, we sit out on the terrace with a few beers. Then, it happened.

I am not joking.

The two German girls started talking about David Hassellhoff.
I felt like the weight of the world was upon my shoulders. I was an American Atlas, upholding the stereotypes that abound about Germans. I had to call them out on it. I did.

The one girl starts talking about Baywatch. Oh my dear Christ, this is too good. The other girl slightly teases her and asks "what was his name in the show?" to which girl A replied "hahaha, [completely straight face] Mitch Buchannon."

Writhing in my little wooden chair, my toes were dancing with delight. I was actually wiggling my toes because I was so happy. The only thing that could have made this little vignette better was for some techno musik to suddenly come on and for everybody to start doing the dance from "Sprockets." That, or maybe just "Rock You Like a Hurricane". Needless to say (though I will), I was on Cloud 9 (without the cross-dressing. [Guess that reference!])

Back to apartment hunting. I have been banking on this one place, and after talking to the landlord, he said to call him back in a half hour. I did. "Oh sorry, I sold the place five minutes ago."

My hostel days are wearing thin. I can't take it anymore. It's too much. Must. Leave. Must. Have. Privacy. Thepeopleneverstoptalkingtheyaresorudeiheardsomedudepukinginthebathroom(ihopeitwasthebathroomtheothernightandcoudln'tgettosleepwoeismehisheartwasgoinglikemadandyesIsaidyesIwillYes.

Now that, Ladies and Gentleman, is a vague reference to something. Ten points for the winner.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

A Few Pictures of Munich (from last year)

An Ugly Question

I think one of the purposes of this blog is to voice things that I might not have otherwise said/noticed. The other day I was walking around when I saw two women, completely veiled in that certain Muslim style (I am not sure which branch of Islam or which region does this). What I mean, is that the women were completely covered from head to toe in a black veil that only exposed their eyes through a thin slit.

An ugly question came into my mind.
"Are some cultures wrong?"

Further explanation: Are there parts of some cultures, whether it be traditional food, garb, dance, song, etc. that are actually wrong: are there cultures that should be changed? Now, this is a bad question, because who am I to say somebody's traditions are bad? I am in no way qualified. However, I am not making that accusation either. Just simply asking the question.

I asked this question, because when I saw the two women (am I ashamed to say this?) I actually felt kind of angry. Why do they need to shield every square inch of their bodies while in public? What good comes from that? Besides the obvious vitamin D deprivation (which we get from exposure to sunlight), I can't imagine their self esteem is great. Again, this is truly uneducational pontifications. I am just sort of thinking out loud (well, thinking via the keyboard).

Again, can somebody say that another culture should change? Can I say that those women should not have to completely cover themselves? Maybe they want to. Maybe they enjoy being covered. Maybe its what brings them happiness, and here is this kid from New York saying you shouldn't have to wear that.

Well, I am not saying that.... just thinking it. An analogy of sorts that I can draw is to.... brace yourselves.... genital mutilation in parts of Africa. [DISCLAIMER: I am in NO way educated on this subject. This is what I remember from conversations with Becca and others who are way more educated than I in this area. Yet, we can still talk about it.] Is genital mutilation wrong, or bad? Um, I think so. What happens is that some groups of people ritually cut off girl's clitoris or other sort of ghastly things. I can truthfully say, that is wrong and worthy of changing. I would support it being banned, even if that meant an infringment on Freedom of Worship or other associated freedoms.

Why? I don't know. I just don't think its right. The same with the veils. It just seems wrong to me. I wouldn't ever support a ban on veils, because that is not doing actually physical harm to those underneath (and, if they really wanted to, they could take it off. Not so with the genital mutilation).
Another question: Can a group of people actually force another group to change? Obviously, I am referring to the question as to whether a country, say the USA, could ban certain cultural practices. We actually do, I think, ban certain things. If a culture included cannabilism, yeah, that would be banned.

Huh. I think I just answered my original question. We can label cultural associations as "bad" or "wrong." We do now. But what about the veils? No. We cannot (nor should we [whoever "we" is]) force that change. That's okay. I just hope the women underneath have the opportunity to choose if they want to wear them or not, without fear of repercussions.

With that, it's time to get ready for dinner. I went to see an apartment today, only to face an unknown audition. The woman who owns and lives in the place had a bunch of people come over to check out the flat. I went in, only to be sat down and interrogated about my life and plans here in Munich. I kept waiting for Jack Bauer to come in, jam my kneecap with a penknife and order 8cc of sodium penthol (No Jack! That's a lethal dose! Dammit!). Anyway, I hope I was charming enough to win her over (we know that the old ladies love me. But she was different. Shaking my hips would have been in poor taste).

Epic Post Matt!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Coincidences and the Matt Reed Show

The place where I did karaoke the other night is closed! For good! What are the chances that I happen to find a place where I can express my musical yearnings to the utmost, only to have that opportunity wrenched from my kung-fu grip. I am crushed.

I'm sure there are other places. But what a coincidence. In fact, I've had a few spooky coincidences recently, now that I think of it. The other night, I was telling Katie about the Oliver Sach's book "An Anthropologist on Mars" (I have a way with the ladies, I know. Oh, and by the way, in response to the numerous questions I have received.... no, it's not like that. We are just friends. FYI: nobody here in Munich reads my blog, as I don't give out the address).

Shout out to all my Tutorial peeps. Anyway, I was telling her about the story of the guy who didn't have any memories after 1967. He had a brain tumor, or something along those lines, that blocked new memories from forming. However, he could remember anything prior to 1967. He was a huge Grateful Dead fan, and could recite lyrics and concerts from memory... as long as it was before 1967. Otherwise, he never retained a single post-1967 memory. Cool stuff.
I don't know why I chose to tell this story, but as I am telling it, "Truckin" came on the radio. What a coincidence! It wasn't a classic rock station or anything, but a playlist off a computer, I believe. I took it as a sign. An omen, if you will.
Today, I was eating my lunch at a Thai restaurant and the most random song popped into my head. It's called "Commissioning a Sympthony in C" by Cake. It is by no means a popular Cake song either and I have no idea why it popped into my head, but as I walked into my hostel after lunch (a good mile from the restaurant).... IT WAS ON THE RADIO!
Somebody is messing with me.

Truthfully, how many of you out there have ever had the serious thought go through your mind: "Am I on the Truman Show?" Dude. I have. Often. When I do something outrageously stupid (a fairly frequent occurrence), I just smile to myself and say, "That's damn good televison. They better have enjoyed that one."

Seriously, if my life is being filmed, I'm going to be pissed. Mom, Dad... is there anything you want to tell me?

Your son,
Matt (if that is your... I mean, my, real name)

Monday, June 25, 2007

The Sound of Music

I finally did it. I thought I could hold out for longer, but last night I caved in to my desires: I went to a bar... alone! I needed to get out of the hostel. After some internet searching, a beacon of light beckoned me to cradle within its warm embrace. That light was karaoke night. It needed me. I wanted it. And it was good.

So, I went to a local Irish pub here and just walked inside, letting the music guide my steps. After grabbing a beer I scanned the room for a friendly looking group of people. To my surprise, right there in front of me, at the foot of the stage, was a group of five who were singing along to this dude's rendition "Beautiful" (the one with the chords from "Wonderwall"). He wasn't so good. They, however, were pretty cool. I started chatting up with one of the girls, let her pick the song I would sing ("Take me Out" which was received rather nicely) and soon we all hit it off! We are actually meeting up tonight for quiz night at another bar. New friends!

Oh, how the power of music brings us together! The thing is, I have had such urges to sing while here in Munich (in fact, I do sing to myself on the streets of Munich. I guess nobody ever walks along with me for too far, so by the time somebody wonders "was he just singing?" they have already passed and no longer asking questions. Recently, I've been on another U2 kick [this happens fairly frequently]). The Accidentals was such a fantastic outlet for that. I am so one of those guys who will talk about the Dentals to anybody at any given opportunity. Nothing will ever top the time I spent with those 16 guys. The only thing that comes close is karaoke night. This will certainly become a Sunday tradition. Even better, I had to give a tour this morning with my hoarse voice. Eh, who cares. You push through and keep going.

Off to nap for a bit. Until next time.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

The Devil's Chair

Dude. I totally hate leather chairs. Some might say, "No Matthew, leather is the most luxurious material there is!" I retort with a resounding "Nay!" that echos throughout the empty streets. I hate leather chairs, and let me tell you why.

The material is completely unbreathable. If there is the slightest hint of moisture on your body, your skin has to literally be ripped apart when you decide to stand. Oh God, I am literally soggy right now (I write my posts in a leather chair in the lobby of my hostel). Try sleeping on leather! Impossible. I overheat way too easily, and tend to drool on leather for some reason. Maybe the moisture is being literally torn from my body.... through my mouth. I don't know. I hate leather chairs.

So today I met the Pope's ex-assistant. Pretty cool. As you may or may not know, Pope Benedict XVI used to be the archbishop of Munich and Freising and his cathedral was here in Munich (the Frauenkirche, known for its twin onion domes). Well, I was giving a tour and while walking through the cathedral, this very personable priest walked over to our group. Using one of my tour members as translater (kind of embarassing) we found out that he was the Pope's assistant when he was here in Munich. This guy went on to entertain the group for another ten minutes, asking if we thought Munich was beautiful and things like that. Now, that's all great and everything, but as a tour guide I am ruthlessly efficient in my schedule. My parents would make fun of the German tour guides, who would say "we will return here in seven minutes and 38 seconds." Why not just round up? Sacrilege! I am so one of the efficient tour guides, giving exact times wherever we go. Anyway, I adjusted for Father's timely appearance (get the allusion? I thought that was pretty witty) and continued the tour.
Pity once said that so much of our lives are wasted because of rounding up in time. Instead of spending a necessary 6 minutes, we round to 10. I think I get it now. It adds up!

Well, I am going to go grab a cappoccino right now (see previous post). Time to study for the Dachau tour. The certification tour is in two weeks. Yikes.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Cute Old Woman and some Italians

I must say that the last few days have been extra exciting. Where to start? How about last night? Katie and I wanted to go out to this club place where there were two for one drink specials. Naturally, we can't just go to the club, but we have to drink before hand. To those of you not in college or recent grads, this is called "pre-gaming", and it is an art form. An art form that I have not mastered...
We started off in the hostel with a few drinks and I talked to a deaf guy. I don't know how many of you have ever "spoken" to a deaf person, but it is kind of a weird experience. I would always say things to him, then be like "Matt, you are pretty dumb." Eventually I just grabbed a peice of paper and started writing things down. Good times.
Next, we went to the Augustiner Beer Hall. Wow. At first, we couldn't find a seat to sit in, so we went to the back of the place. There, seated around a huge wooden table were about seven boisterous dudes. Katie and I sat with them (that's custom here in Germany. A table does not need to be open, but if a seat at a table is open, you may sit there). Soon we discovered that they were all Italians, and that one of them was getting married. After a stein of one liter of beer, we started becoming more friendly. Pretty soon, I was standing on the chair, giving a toast to the groom and singing Italian soccer chants. Funny thing: the Italians have, for some reason, adopted the guitar lick from The White Stripes song "Seven Nation Army" as their soccer chant. Travis had told me about this, but to actually hear it is totally different. They started singing it, and I sat there thinking "why do I know this tune?" Then it hit me. Then I joined in.
After taking a group picture, Katie and I left and went to the club. This is the first time I have ever been to a club... like a real club. You know that typical "Boom-chick-boom-chick" club beat that I always make fun of? Yeah, it was here. And it was loud. I can honestly say that I did not really enjoy it. Being pushed together so tight in a confined space made me claustrophobic, and more importantly.... I didn't have enough room to dance dammit! My knees kept knocking against other people. "I am here to dance... to express myself through the art of dance! Don't you understand!" They didn't. Then I lost Katie in the crowd. Then I went home.

I woke up today (with a hangover) and gave a tour at 11. It went great, but the best part was this old woman who came along on the tour. She's from Hartford (we talked about Trin) and she was here for the hiking! Hell yeah! She was a very sweet old woman who gave me a big hug after the tour ended, telling me what I great job I did and how my mother should be proud. Very cute.

With that, I am quite hungry. What to eat? Sushi? Nah, I'm really hungry. Indian food? Had that yesterday (there's a great place nearby. Ohhhh the curry...) Bavarian food tends to be pricey (I have to get a beer with a Bavarian meal. I feel guilty otherwise). Ah ha! I'll go to this place called "Bloom" where they do stir frys and some great pasta dishes. It's a very trendy place, and the dude makes a mean cappoccino. That sounds good to me. I allow myself one big meal, where I go all out, per day. Ok, bye!


Thursday, June 21, 2007

A Bit of Hilarity

After a couple of minutes, I suddenly felt like I cheated you, my faithful readers, out of a post. I have been rather lazy in my posts recently, and I hang my head in sorrowful shame, begging for your forgiveness. There I go being melodramatic again.
Haha, anyway, I figured I'd share one of my favorite websites with you! It's the blog of Scott Adams, who is the guy who writes the comic "Dilbert." Many of you know that I have always loved Dilbert, (hence my screename. "Oh! That's what Drewbert means! Matt, you need a life...) He is absolutely hysterical, with a sort of logically-twisted/cynical mind. Check it out at:

He updates it daily and consistently makes me laugh out loud. Enjoy!

Tour Guiding is an Act

After giving my fifth tour today, I started to realize that being a tour guide is probably the best training that an actor could hope for. The reason is because I give nearly the exact same 3 hour schpiel every day on my tours, but each time I have to act like this is new to me. Energy and passion has to permeate every fact that I give to the tourists (is that what you call people on the tour? Maybe I am the tour-er and they are the tour-ee? Anywho...). The stories I tell have to be delivered with the same gusto each time. And let me tell you... it's taxing!
In reality, it is no different than a theater production. I have a set of lines that I deliever only with slight variation every time (and I have only blanked out completely once on stage. For those of you who witnessed this spectacle of stage, it was quite the memorable moment. God I love alliteration. Anyway, it was during the world famous production of "Money" at Conn College, during a scene where I portrayed a slightly stupid and arrogant doctor. In the scene, Abbie turns to me and seductively says, "Spoooonnnngggeeee." [I am laughing out loud while writing this. I am in the middle of my hostel, and people are definitely looking at me funny. Wow, I am currently in a double parenthetical aside. Have you lost your way in this post yet? I have! Let's get back to my previous parenthetical aside...] So, once Abbie turned around and said "sponge" to me, I totally blanked. I could see the script in my head, but for some reason the words were not coming to me. I just stared back at Abbie, at a complete loss of words. I don't quite remember what I said, except that I made it abundantly clear that Pat had to save me and that I was totally lost. After an eternity, Pity picked up the peices and the scene continued. I still don't remember what I was supposed to say. Close parenthesis.)

Ummm.... what was I saying?
Oh yeah!

So I have rehearsed lines as a tour guide, and I also have choreography. Perhaps more specifically, as we call it in the biz: "movement." My choreography consists of usually hopping about, trying to demonstrate jousts, Cooper's Dances (don't ask), and other Munich things.

I lost interest in writing this post just now. I keep thinking about "Money." For what it is worth, I will never forget that show. What shall I leave you with? Hmmm...
Oh! For all you Ward Melville-ites out there, Mrs. Cusamano (the Spanish teacher) just had another baby boy! Congrats Cus!

With that, I am going to go back to apartment hunting. I have a few leads. We shall see.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Fountain of Youth

I think I have discovered the secret to long life. In the past, I would have said it was having a job or a hobby during retirement, and I still think that's part of it. My theory was that if people don't have something to look forward to each day, what's the point in waking up? Even the most basic job or hobby is enough to keep the mind occupied and life worth living.

But that's not what this post is about.
No, this is about love.

Matt. Are you serious? A post about love? And why the hell did you put it in italics? You're so melodramatic sometimes...

Here's what I mean: There is nothing as cute/inspiring than seeing an elderly couple in love... and I mean really elderly. I was sitting down for dinner recently in a little restaurant that serves typical Bavarian food. The waiter comes over and hands me the menu. I chose "swinebraten" or something like that. It was pork shoulder with a potato dumpling and some cabbage. Naturally, I order "ein helles" to wash it down. For those of you not in the know, "helles" is the regular sort of beer here in Munich. It's the kind we are all used to. I love it. I digress...
I start enjoying my meal when I look over my right shoulder and see a really old couple sitting at the table besides me. They must have been like 50 years old.


No, they were each about 80 years old. I caught them towards the end of the meal, right before the dessert. That's when it happened: The waiter brought the dessert over and they both simultaneously became so excited! The woman had the biggest smile on her face and muttered something in German and the man was obviously pleased as well.
They had ordered one ice cream bowl which they were about to share. Well let me tell you, they looked so happy to share that little bowl of ice cream with eachother that I just had to record the moment in my handy little notebook.
Then I started thinking/making up a story about them. Who knows how often they go out to eat. Maybe this is a daily event... and they always get this excited! Maybe this was special. Regardless, it was the cutest moment I have witnessed so far in Germany and it made me realize:

The second secret to long life is to have somebody to share it with.

By no means does that exclusively mean a spouse. Nah, good friends are just as valuable.
Anyway, that's my thought of the day. I woke up this morning with the "Macarena" stuck in my head. That was messed up.


Busy Busy!

Hey everybody, I have been extremely busy these last few days and today is no exception! Currently, I am scrambling to find an apartment here in Munich. I have a few leads, but I must investigate them all thoroughly. Therefore, I have to keep this short! I must leave my hostel by Friday, so let's hope something works out before then.

Sorry for the short post!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Muchas Gracias

Much thanks to my friends and family who talked me out of leaving Munich. I guess I hit one of those "what the hell did I just do" spots that was inevitably going to occur. For about three days there, I was really questioning if this trip was going to be worth the effort. I even wrote in a past post that I was "dissappointed" or some other rubbish like that. I am not dissappointed at all. That was cranky Matt talking. I probably was hungry (shout out to Devin and Pat who insist that I get cranky when I am hungry).

I am having a great time here. I couldn't ask for anything more; except I wish I knew the language! But, that will come in time. I went through an entire meal today without speaking English, nor asking the waitress to (a meal consisting of my absolute favorite Munich dish: weisswurst. They are little white veal and herb sausages that are served for breakfast, along with a pretzel, sweet mustard, and a weissbier (wheat beer). They are encased in a thick condom-like casing that you must cut off in order to eat the insides. Sorry for that visual, but its pretty accurate. And so delicious!).

After talking to many of my best friends and family members I realized that I am incredibly lucky to be doing exactly what I am doing and I would totally regret doing otherwise. As Paul said, when I look back, I am going to be angry if I said, "Remember the summer of '07. That Physics class was great!" I say NAY. Hell no. I am going to be like, "Hey remember the summer of '07? Thats the time when I threw all of my fears and trepidations to the wind and began the adventure of a lifetime." That sounds better to me.

I am going to use this downtime that I so feared to better myself and do things I never could do otherwise. I am going to visit all of the museums here (there are a ton), eat the food in every restaurant, read the books I always wanted to read (the classics are free at, listen to good music (or at least what Gerry considers good music), learn German, and make a ton of mistakes. Yeah, that sounds about right to me.

Well, I am going to start reading this book called "That was Dachau." Part of the deal in being a tour guide with this company is that I give the Free walking tour, but I also must give a "select" tour. These have a set fee and are more focused. Much to my initial fear, I kind of volunteered to give tours of the concentration camp at Dachau. In order to do that, I am reading the book on Dachau. Let's hope this prepares me for the task that lies ahead: Somehow sharing the facts of one of the greatest crimes in humanity's history without breaking into tears each tour.

Here we go.

Cheers and Much Thanks,

Saturday, June 16, 2007

I am SO European

Just look at me. I am so European.

Recently, I have taken to rolling up the bottoms of my jeans... and I actually walk around in public like that! And more importantly, I look good! At first I saw other people rolling up their jeans and all I could think of was Huck Finn riding down the Big River, until one day I tired it out myself. After five rolls on each side, I was ready to enter public. Quite shyly, granted, but I did it and there were no awkward stares! No rude comments! I was one with the European waiting inside of me. Pretty soon, I started wearing my sunglasses in the rain and carrying my man-purse everywhere I went. Recently, I have even gotten into the habit of heading to my favorite Italian coffee shop and ordering..... wait for it..... a cappuccino! ME?? WTF, mate?! I am a snobbish tea drinker who would never be caught dead drinking that vile brown liquid that has so entranced the masses for millenia. But I gave it a try, and dammit, I like it. Even with the little crown of foam that they put on the top. The foam is in the shape of a leaf! I love that foam-leaf. They're so talented. And the cappuccino! Oh my! When the waiter enthusiastically announces "un capo!" I know that I am in for a treat. Silently, I giggle with delight. And soon it arrives and I take such delight in the little cup whose handle is not big enough to stick a toddler's pinky through. No no, you must handle the cup with care and patience. You must grip the handle with thumb and forefinger and squeeze just enough so that the fat from both fingers fills the handle-hole. Ahhhh, the warmth of my forefinger pressed barely against my thumb. Heaven. And then its time for the sugar! I sprinkle a small amount on top of the leaf-foam and watch it dissapear, submerging inside of the warm liquid. I like to think that the sugar goes to a better place and is just waiting for me to join the party. It slips beneath the foam and says "Hey Matt, I'll meet you on the other side!." "Ok sugar," I say, "I'll see you there soon." But first I must use this little barbie spoon to seductively scoop molocules of foam from off the top. The sip. The swallow. The wipe. The satisfied exhale. The saucer replace.

I am so European.

Friday, June 15, 2007

My Interior Monologue is a Dialogue

So, recently I have been having doubts as to whether this whole trip was a good idea. As of now, I am incredibly unsatisfied. Here's the scene from Pulp Fiction that describes my dilemma, with Jules being my adventurous side and Vincent being my rational side:

VINCENT: So if you're quitting the life,what'll you do?
JULES: That's what I've been sitting here contemplating. First, I'm gonna deliver this case to Marsellus. Then, basically, I'm gonna walk the earth.
VINCENT: What do you mean, walk the earth?
JULES: You know, like Caine in "KUNG FU." Just walk from town to town, meet people, get in adventures.
VINCENT: How long do you intend to walk the earth?
JULES: Until God puts me where he want me to be.
VINCENT: What if he never does?
JULES: If it takes forever, I'll wait forever.
VINCENT: So you decided to be a bum?
JULES: I'll just be Jules, Vincent -- no more, no less.
VINCENT: No Jules, you're gonna be like those pieces of shit out there who beg for change. They walk around like a bunch of fuckin' zombies, they sleep in garbage bins, they eat what I throw away, and dogs piss on 'em. They got a word for'em, they're called bums. And without a job, residence, or legal tender, that's what you're gonna be-- a fuckin' bum!

Job? check
Residence? Not really. It depends each day.
Legal Tender? Dwindling rapidly.

When I am not giving tours, I am not doing anything of real value. Yes, it is relaxing and such but I am not in the mood to relax. I feel like I am just being a bum. Tours for three hours, then walking around aimlessly for many more hours. I am not working towards any real goal... or anything really beneficial. It's time to make some real decisions! Let's see how that goes.


Thursday, June 14, 2007

My Kraut-Mick Friend

Does anybody know what I am alluding to in the title? Ten points to the winner. Anyway, last night I met one of the more interesting characters thus far on my trip. His name is Patty. No, his name is Dominic. He goes by both names. He's Irish. No, he's German. He can't be both?!

This guy, whose real name is in fact Dominic goes around telling people that he's Irish. He talks with an Irish accent and wears a lot of Irish-looking clothes (what are Irish clothes? I don't know, they just look Irish). There are a few of us who know, however, that he is not Irish at all, and has actually never been to Ireland. He's a born and bred German.

Why does he do this? Well, his answer was that it helped him "get laid." Ok, sure. But there's probably another reason. One guy thinks that he does it because he is ashamed to be a German. I don't think that's necessarily true either. Really, I think he is just one of those people who likes to entertain himself at other's expense. Not in a malicious way, but that's just how he gets his kicks.
That reminds me of this guy who used to come into the vitamin store I worked in during high school. His nickname with the workers was "the Christ Warrior" because apparently at one time he claimed that he was the thirteenth warrior of Christ (what happened to the other twelve?). As you can imagine, I was so intrigued by the crazy dude that I just had to talk to him. We start chatting, and pretty soon I am getting the impression that he's perfectly normal! No crazy eyes. No drool. We're just laughing and talking. I think he fakes being crazy! Heck, it would be pretty funny to act crazy and watch people's reactions. He is just stubborn enough to always do it. Well, that's my theory anyway. For all I know, he could be batshit crazy.

Either way, Dominic recently "buried" Patty and has apparently given up the whole fascade. To show how he was symbolically burying Patty, he actually buried: a beer, an Irish menu, an Irish t-shirt, a pack of cigarettes, and a pack of condoms. Rest in peace Patty.

What can we learn from all of this? I'm not too sure. There's no need to be ashamed of who you are? Sure, that sounds good to me.


Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Can They Carbonate David Hassellhoff? and a bit of a rant.

Man, these Germans love to carbonate things. Water? Carbonated. Apple juice? Carbonated. I would kill for a big bottle of Poland Spring right now, as the water here is pretty sub-par. Almost all of the bottled water is "mineralwasser" conveniently containing a list of all the yummy extra minerals they put into it. Did I say yummy? I meant "tastes like corrogated steel." They all have this sort of metallic after taste that reminds me of pool water. Dirty, dirty pool water. Sorry... "Pulwasser."
The solution?
Carbonation. The bubbles are the only things that I notice in a bottle of water, not the taste. So, I have taken to drinking only carbonated water. Let's see how long I can keep this up.

Recently I was thinking about the popularity of religion in American society, and, alternatively, the relative lack of it in European society. Well, not all European society. Certainly not Spain or Italy, but definitely France, England and Germany. I am aware that this is a real blanket generality, but I think its worthy of thinking about. What is the difference between all of them? My initial thought was that European cities are packed with the most extravagent cathedrals and churches... maybe the visibility of religious imagery in everyday life kind of makes people "bored" with religion. Do you know what I mean? Maybe having a history (and city) saturated in religiously oriented stories, imagery, and violence have made the current generation rebel against their past and distance themselves. But my theory doesn't hold up with the examples of Italy and Spain, where religion is an important part of life (from what I here. Again, I am in no way qualified to make these generalizations. They are just thoughts/theories.) I can say that Italy and Spain are certainly not as commercially successful as the other countries I have mentioned. Do you think that has something to do with it?

On the other hand, we have the US. I feel like religion is such an important part of our culture: from "In God We Trust" on the currency, to "One Nation Under God", to politicians having to prove that they are "Good Christians" with Good Christian Morals. Oh boy, how the presence of religion in US politics gets my spurs a' janglin'! Nobody could ever come out and say they are atheist and ever have a glimmer of hope for a political career. What they think and believe in unimportant. If they don't believe in God, they are an actual pariah.
Another example is that for me to express that I don't believe in God (Are You Serious Matt!) is a serious taboo. But why should I be ashamed to ask questions about life (questions that nobody can answer) and not blindly follow what is dictated to me? I guess I am under the impression that most people never actually chose to worhip within their given religion: converts being the exception. Hahaha, I sound like an angry punk kid, but I don't mean it that way. To clarify, for me, there could be a God, I don't doubt that.... but I just have not seen much proof for it. In fact, there is a lot more proof to the contrary (death, disease, famine, war, torture, suffering, accidental death, etc.). Maybe someday, if somebody gave me a really good reason, I could believe in God. Until that time, I..... am.... an..... atheist (or maybe agnostic. I never really understood the difference)! OH THE HUMANITY!

That quote conveniently leads me into my next point. I hate the idea that people do good deeds in order to go to Heaven or to make a god happy. Answering to a big man in the sky just seems so wrong to me. Good deeds should be motivated by a love for people, regardless of the pay off in the afterlife... or even this life! Being kind for the sake of kindness and the hope (dare I say "faith"?) that others can be motivated to do the same is good enough for me.
However, I do see the therapeutic effects that religion brings to some during difficult times. When the unthinkable occurs, perhaps the best answers lie within that which we cannot see nor totally understand.

Here's a pretty cool thought. Perhaps "God" is a set of universal morals. A set of morals that anybody, regardless of place of origin, color of skin, clothes worn, years of age, cultural and political history can abide by and strive for. A given would be not to kill other humans. Killing animals? Necessary and natural. Killing humans? There has got to be another way. I don't have the answer.
"Honor thy mother and father"? Hell no. There are some terrible parents out there worthy of zero respect and honor. I know how fucking lucky I am that I happen to have two incredible parents. Not all of us are so fortunate.
What about always helping others within your capacity? We can't expect everybody to give up all of our worldy possessions and move to Darfur to help stop the genocide there. We have families and people who depend on us here. But, at the same time, with Darfur for example, we can educate ourselves, influence our politicians, donate money, educate others, etc. For a smaller and a bit more practical example, helping others within our capacity means helping that old lady with her bags, being absolutely intolerant of racism, sexism, or bigotry (you don't need to go anywhere or give anything for that one, except to be vocal in its presence), help picking up the books that the student dropped, holding the door open for the man in a wheelchair, etc.

Help me out. What are some universal morals? Thats not even a good word for it. I wish I could say "universal goods" as in things that are "good". In fact, thats what I'll call it. Universal Goods. What do you think is a good one?

Ok, I am stepping down from the soapbox now. I totally went on a tangent and forgot the original question that I asked or topic I was exploring. Anyway, I want to hear what you have to say! Thanks for all the great comments everybody. Keep em coming.


Tuesday, June 12, 2007


So its seems that my last posts did go through. For some reason, they did not show up after I wrote them. I would delete the last one, except Uncle Ray left such a great comment that I could not dare delete it.

So today was the day. My first tour! As you can imagine, it was a nerve racking experience, and to top it off, there was a torrential downpour for about an hour of it. Of course things couldn't go according to plan! How silly of me.

The group was very understanding, and if anything else I think I got better tips because of it. After the appropriate deductions, I made about 30 euros for 2 and a half hours of work. Not bad!

Thus concludes my first day of real tour guide life. Its only 2:30 pm, but I am already exhausted from my jittered nerves and bad sleep. I think its time for a nice nap in my crowded and rather smelly hostel bed. What else can I do? Besides giving tours, my days and nights are completely open. In fact, I have been looking to see if I can find a hobby or something to occupy my time. To tell you the truth, I can't handle this inactivity very long. I better find a choir or a cappella group soon (though nothing could ever compare to the Accidentals. Jeez, I miss them already.)

Well, I am going to nap. Until next time!

Monday, June 11, 2007

It Has Begun

Ahhh shit. I just wrote this long post about how I officially became a tour guide, and the website just deleted it. I am pretty frustrated and tired (but very happy as well), so I am keeping this really short.

I was tested
I passed
I give a tour in 10 hours
I am peeing in my pants with anxiety.

I'll re-write the post tomorrow and let you know details.

It Has Begun

Today was the big day. Make or break. Go big or go home. Today, five of us newbie/potential tourguides had to give a fake tour to the city manager. Let me tell you, my nerves were out of control. For some reason I was incredibly nervous despite being relatively comfortable with the material. Over the past few days, I have gone on the tours of some of the veteran tour guides and attempted to learn their styles/jokes/pacing, etc. and hopefully incorporate that into my own tour. Now was the time to put my chops to the test.

After a shaky beginning (mostly due to nerves) I eventually fell into my groove. But of course, as we are all getting a little more comfortable with each other, the manager knocks two of the newbies out, saying that they did not have what it takes at this time. One was too nervous and jittery, one didn't know enough of her facts. Little did he know, that I was basically peeing in my pants with nervous energy. I guess I hid it well!

Three hours later....

I MADE IT! I am officially a tour guide with New Munich Walking Tours. At the group meeting, all I could think of was, "Oh shit. What do I do now?" All this time, giving tours sounded like such a great idea, but never a reality. But now it is reality, and I have to give my first tour in 10 hours! Oh well, here goes nothing...


Sunday, June 10, 2007

Lessons learned

I almost forgot to mention a saying that Geoff told me that profoundly affected me. It is:

"Cometh the Hour, Cometh the Man."

When he said it, is was in reference to the drastic circumstances that were associtated with World War II, and how Winston Churchill led the UK through it. When hard times came, somebody stood up and took charge of the situation.

This concept is one that has fascinated me for a long time. The question is, why do some cower in the face of danger, while others rise to the occasion? It sounds melodramatic, but I don't mean it that way. For example, an elderly woman is lugging a suitcase up a long flight of stairs. Everybody sees her struggling. Why not help? Of course, if you are unable to give assistance, thats fine, but if you are capable, whats stopping you?

So often we (myself included) tend to enter autopilot in our lives, dismissing outside stimuli and focusing on nothing in particular. Walking along the street, I am thinking about my destination and not what is two feet in front of me. I think thats the reason why people freeze during dangerous situations. Snapping out of autopilot is tough!

A few years ago, Dan, Paul and myself made a promise to each other never to sit idly during an emergency. If something goes down, become active, no matter how small the situation. Cometh the hour, cometh the man. Take a minute and really think about it.


Saturday, June 9, 2007


I almost forgot! Leave comments on my posts! They make me happy! Bye!

My Kind of Town... Munich is

So I am already totally in love with Munich. There is this transparent charm to the city. You can't see it, but something about it shines. Besides the beautiful people who populate its crowded streets and the thousands of shops and beer halls brimming with life, there is something more to this city. Perhaps I will be able to articulate it later.

Anyway, I have made a few friends here. Nothing serious yet. The hostel people come and go, so you can't really try to become their buddies. Its sort of like how veteran soldiers would not befriend the green replacements.... because they seem to be gone before you know it.

I'm going to keep this short as I have to go grab some groceries. I have been trying to eat healthy while here. Beer and bratwurst binges does not bode well for the body. Nice alliteration Matt. I try to drink juices (fresh squeezed in the market) and fruits and such. I would kill for a Brazil Grille here, with unprocessed meats ready for me to tear into and get my essential proteins and amino acids.

Gruss Gott und Aufweidezen!

Friday, June 8, 2007

Final Thoughts, a la Jerry Springer

After having settled into my hectic hostel in Munich (I live in a room with 39 other people) , I got to thinking about how I felt about Paris. Here are my concluding remarks:
At first, I truly did not like Paris. Dare I say, I kind of hated it. There was not enough of a culture shock for me. I felt like I was in NYC, but everybody spoke French instead. There was so much hype about going hither and tither... and it was not living up to its reputation. Perhaps it was the fact that I was living in bumblefuck 11 arr. It was kind of near the Bastille, which has some fun things in that area, but far enough away where it was a pain to get there.

Dude, no joke, they are playing the most stereotypical German techno in the hostel right now. "I'm dropping acid in Munich!"

Anyway, with each passing day, I seemed to enjoy Paris a little bit more. So much so, that by the end I kind of wished I could have had a few more days there. I think I am going to stick with my plan of transferring from the Munich branch of the tour guide company to the Paris branch come November. Houli will kill me otherwise. I need to see more of this city.

So far today, I've made a couple of tour guide friends. The current order of business is to study up on my Munich history in preparation for the "certification" process. I don't have any worries though. My nerdom prepared me.



After a long and uncomfortable train ride, I have finally reached Munich! Ahhh, and the city looks just like I remember it. Can't wait to get out there and start making money and hopefully...friends! At this point, it seems like I am only befriending adults. What does that say about me? I think it just means I am not being as outgoing as I can be... so I'll change that. Well, I have to keep this quick, as I have to unpack and such. Until next time!


Thursday, June 7, 2007

Oh The Places You Go

I just had the most wonderful afternoon. I had decided that today was the day I would make my pilgrimage to the grave of Lafayette. As most of you know, I wrote my thesis on Lafayette and admire him very much as the epitome of conducting oneself with selfless honor. I could get teary eyed thinking about, but Ill spare you.

So, I hop in a cab and tell him the address. The driver, Mohammed, has never heard of this address, so I tell hi, its a cemetary. "A cemetary?!" He spoke English very well, so we got to chatting and I told him about Lafayette. He thought Lafayette was an American! Anyway, we get to the place, which is in a quiet corner of Paris, and Mohammed and I both get out of the cab to explore the place. We figure out that it doesnt open for an hour, so I wait and after a handshake and a thanks, Mohammed hops back in the cab and takes off.

After the cemetary opens, I had the opportunity to talk to the man who was in charge. He was a jolly dude, who was quite funny, asking me why Americans speak the language of their oppresssors (English... duh). I bashfully laughed at his comments and after he showed ,e how to get in the cemetary (not before making a somewhat anti-semetic comment which sort of pissed me off. Needless to say, I wasnt much interested in speaking to him after that). As I am about to start my exploration, an older couple (young at heart, though) happened to enter the cemetary at the same time. The woman; Mary Anne, is an American and she is married to Geoff, an Englishman. Well, let me tell you, we had a marvelous time. We chatted throughout our walk through the cemetary about Lafayette, geneology, and the Revolution. They are such a charming couple, with Mary Anne issuing the orders and Geoff making wonderfully witty asides.

At Lafayettes grave, I sprinkled a little bit of sand from Omaha beach on it as a sort of symbolic gesture. Lafayette shed his blood to fight for our independence, and we shed ours at Omaha Beach to liberate the French; I just thought it was appropriate.

After leaving the cemetrary, Mary Anne and Geoff treated me to a cup of coffee at a local cafe. Now, I am not a coffee drinker, but given that I was in Paris and in wonderful company, I decided to give it a go, and it was fantastic. We sat and talked about Geoffs experiences in WWII and a myriad of other topics. Truly, this was a great day. Geoff and Mary Anne, if you are reading this (I gave them the address to the website), thanks for the coffee and the memories! You are both absolutely wonderful.

Well, time to pack for Munich. Adieu!


Hey Everybody! So here I am, ny third and final day in Paris. Its been an interesting couple of days, so let me fill you in... side note: I am using a french keyboard, so excuse the typos and unconnected sentences. This will read like a third graders diary. My apologies.

My flight fro, JFK to DUblin was very enjoyable. Right when I sat down in my seat; I started chatting with "Anthony." He is a self described entrepeneur, who has been in the business of landscape design, brewing beer, financial planning, and anything else you can think of. As I got to know him, I really started to admire his youthful outlook on life. He was 48 years old. He told me about how he goes from job to job, making pots of money (ten points to the one who can name that reference). Anyway, I really think he was an air marshall, because as soon as our budding friendship began to blossom, he left me without a word... with two crying kids.... and more bills than a single, working class mom could pay. Hahaha, I have no idea what I am saying. Why did I make myself the mom? Anyway.

After considering having a pint of Guinness in the DUblin airport at 5 in the morning (I didnt), I hopped on a plane to Paris. Again, I had a great time with my seat mates. This time, they were two wonderful Irish women who were on their way to take a tour of the gardens of Paris with a tour group. But they were not into the whole scene and were the outlaws of the group. Very cute. THey must have been around 45 and 75 years old (mom and daughter). After getting a lesson in Irish politics (I held my tongue and didnt mention U2) we too parted ways as I entered Charles DeGaulle Airport.

Dreading the trip from CDG to Paris proper, I was surprised how easy it was. Just hopped on the RER (metro) and I was off... looking gangsta. So, how is Paris you ask?

Well, Paris is characterized by a few things: one, baguettes. Dude, eveytbody carries around huge loafs of bread, and nibbles on the, from time to time. Stick thin girls carry loaves that are bigger than them. For serious. Next: Crazy people on the metro. I have seen so many crazies in my few days that I want to do a study of homless behavior in different cities. There are two main types of homless people: Evangelists and gypsies. The evangelists get on to the metro, and once the door closes they address the entire metro car, talking at great lengths in a commanding voice. I looked around and noticed that everybody ignored them, so I tried tot do the same, even though I was facinated by them. They talk and talk (some have impressive stage presence) and once they finish their talk they go around and look for donations. This is in contrast to the gypsies, who just go up to me; ask if I speqk ENglish... its a trap! (Cue the Admiral Ackbar impression...) When I reply in the affirmative, they hold out a card, written in ENglish, describing their woes. I would love to help, but I am pretty broke as well. SUch are the homeless people.

I almost got in a fight in the metro! Me and some dude had a show down after he flicked my blazer (my favrotie blazer too)! It ened when he did an AC SLater "brush vigourously and aggressively against opponents shoulder." SItuation resolved.

I went to Normandy yesterday and saw all of the sights there: Omaha Beach, the museum, Pointe du Hoc, and a few others. I took a huge handful of sand from Omaha, to give as presents for so,e people, so if you are interested, let me know. Not much else to say about it, except that it was a powerful experience, and the Normans love their mini-golf.

In Paris, I have seen the Eiffel Tower, Les Invalides (Napoleons tomb), the Bastille memorial, the outside of Notre Dame (huge line to get in), and a few others. I live in a rather ta,e section of Paris (11 agg) which is sort of near the bastille, but not really. I walked from my hostle to Les Invalides two days ago and I thought that I would die, or become paralyzed. It took nearly four hours of endless walking. My bad. But it was worth it.

Overall, I have enjoyed Paris, but I think I am missing a big part of it. I have not really gone to a bar or club or anything like that yet (sorry, no Queen). I have been too tired fro, other activiteis.

Now I am off to go see the grave of Lafayette, and then later, hopping a train to Munich. Ill try to wrte a more interesting post when I get there (the german keyboard is very similiar to English).

Merci (which I say with a damn convincing accent)!

Monday, June 4, 2007


Here I am in the terminal of JFK, waiting for my flight. I am pretty sure that I am hijacking (or whatever you call it) somebody else's wireless network, so I will be brief. For all I know, Chloe is out there tracking me (with a sour puss on her face), arguing with Morris and simultaneously uploading my coordinates to Jack's PDA. For those of you who don't get these references... I'm sorry, but you have not lived yet.

The first step in my journey is a stop-over in Dublin. Therefore, I am flying "Aer Lingus." Let me tell you, I am already entertained. Call it juvenile, but dammit... accents are funny. I couldn't understand a word that the check-in lady said to me, and I was thrilled. Hopefully my luck continues on the flight. I wonder if they serve Guinness in flight? Sign me up.

I'm keeping this one short, as I have to board any second. Adieu!

Current mental status: overwhelmed
Appropriate metaphor: "a fish out of water"

Sunday, June 3, 2007

the calm before the storm

So, here I sit in my room, with T minus one day until departure. Quick recap, for those of you not in the know: I am going to Paris for a few days to gallivant about, weep at the grave of Lafayette (my historical idol), travel to the beaches of Normandy to gaze at the sands my grandfather walked 63 years ago, to stand in awe at the tomb of Napoleon, and walk along the Seine in the footsteps of such colossal historical figures as Voltaire, Robespierre, and Jim Morrison. It promises to be a sensory overloading three days. After that, I am off to Munich, Germany, where I have a job as a tour guide. I will be giving walking tours of the city until the end of October.
The only thought that is consistently going through my mind is: What the hell am I doing?

For those of you who know me, I am sure you know that I am a rather composed individual, not prone to panic or stressing out. However, two nights ago, while in Vermont with all of my good Trinity friends (that was awesome), I sat up at night and freaked out. What have I gotten myself into? I can't speak French! I am going to be stuck in Charles DeGaulle Airport with no friends, no contacts, trying to find where U2 filmed the video for "Beautiful Day", all the while loaded down with a heckova lotta luggage! Doom quietly rests upon mine shoulders... and he's not happy.

But there is no reason to worry. Everything is just fine. Like any good American traveller, I know that the language barrier can be broken with volume.

So, what are the goals of this blog? One, I always wanted to be a trendy dude and say I have a blog. Phase one: complete. Besides that, hopefully all of you who are interested in my travels can check this site every once in a while and see what I am up to, who I have met, what I have drank, etc. Hopefully I will keep you up-to-date and entertained!

I'll try to update this as often as possible. Peace out.