Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year

Well a very Happy New Year to you, upright reader.
I have a couple of very funny stories to tell you, but I am currently very busy with New Year's stuff (we are running a Pub Crawl in Munich.. Stress!!!), so I don't have time to write it. But, to give you a sneak peek: The monotony of my Dachau tours came to an end thanks to an old drunk dude, and later that night I hung out with a girl who reaffirmed the idea that I will eventually find "that one". Though she was not "the one" she was pretty friggin close (and hot and Brazilian).

With that, look forward to a post tomorrow morning and pray that I survive the night.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

"Hidden Dragon, Lying Tiger" or "Taddle Tails"

Call me insensitive, but this news report is kind of funny. I am usually that guy who laughs at inappropriate times, especially those times that involve unfortunate and strange circumstances of death. As you know, my filter on what is appropriate and inappropriate often fails. This story made me choke on my breakfast beverage:
What's funny is not that a young guy was killed. That's terrible. But read this report on CNN and marvel that it was actually printed.

First, look at the picture. THAT'S the police chief? You mean, she is in charge of taking down murderers and rapists? My God, I bet Stephan Hawkings could beat the crap out of her with the electricity turned off.

Second, I love the line about halfway down the page: "According to the logs, zoo personnel initially told police that two men reporting the escaped tiger might be mentally disturbed and "making something up," though one was bleeding from the back of the head."
HOLY DOG SHIT! Not only is a tiger on the loose, but it's mentally disturbed! I don't know about you, but I always live by the maxim: Angry tiger + Daddy issues= SHOOT HER (Jurassic Park style). And if having a mentally disturbed tiger on the loose wasn't enough to loosen your bowels, this fucking tiger is "making something up". Dammit, it's playing mind games with us now. Fine mentally unstable tiger, go around slashing people's throats... but when you start making shit up, now you've gone too far. But hell, I can cut you some slack, seeing as how one of you is bleeding from the back of the head. That probably hurts like hell. Shit, I'd make stuff up too just to put myself out of misery.

Lastly, another priceless line: "Police said Friday that they had completed their investigation on zoo grounds and that investigators "found absolutely no evidence of an intentional release."
Well praise Jesus and the lambs, at least we don't have insane tigers convincing impressionable passers-by to open up the gates. I'm glad police figured that one out. I will continue paying taxes.

And in closing, you and your children may rest easy tonight because "Meanwhile, at the Oakland Zoo, officials have said they plan to raise the height of the walls surrounding their tiger enclosure to avoid any escapes like the one in San Francisco."

Fuck you San Francisco Zoo.
The Oakland Zoo

Enjoy your day,

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Grizzly Adams

Chuck Norris, eat your heart out.

(Note: If you are reading this Mr. Norris, please don't eat my heart out. I would never question your omnipotent destruction capabilities and humbly bow my head in submission to said abilities. I, just as the entire world, knows that you don't sleep at night. You wait.)

I am rocking a full on beard right now. One of my finest in these 22 years since my birth. Its full, thick, and wonderful to pensively stroke. I can't be a faux-intellectual until I have at least some piece of distinguishing hair. Hemingway had a beard. Freud had a beard (and cute glasses to boot!). Einstein had the crazy just-electrocuted hair. Dammit, I need it too. Luckily, I have a little patch of white hair that I have on my chin that just screams sophistication (when I shaved a few weeks ago, I realized that it is not the hair that is white, but that I actually lack pigment on that part of my skin. There is a white patch of skin when the beard is absent). And besides, it just feels good. I enjoy the formidable forest of man-foliage surrounding my smile. It keeps me safe.

I have a theory that I should always wear a beard in the winter. I feel like it is natural. Our ancestors didn't shave! Pish tosh! They ate with their bare hands raw flesh that was plucked off a fresh bleeding corpse! Ok, maybe I'll leave that part out. And everything else related to neanderthals. Except the beard.

Besides a symbol of sophistication, the beard also helps keep me warm. It shields my baby-bottom skin from the frigid cold, the bone-chilling rain, and unsightly blemishes. Even the snow likes the beard, as it clings lovingly along for the ride.

But on the whole, the beard is man's real best friend. It grows, matures, needs grooming, needs training and attracts ladies better than any drooling mutt can (that's a lie. A cute dog is unbeatable and a great conversation starter).

So yeah. Grow a beard if you can. Feel the magic.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Look, Part 2

And now we continue with your regularly scheduled program: "The Look, Part 2"

And there I sat, spaghetti carbonara in front of me and a tall glass of weissbier at my side; its stiff foamy head remaining suspended in mid-air, refusing to spill over the lip of the glass. I drink slowly from the weissbier, lest I should bury my nose in the foamy deliciousness. Savoring each tender moment, the brew and the boy exist in complete harmony. If my beer were a woman, we would be in love. If I were a beer, we would be in the same glass. The history of beer dates back to Babylonian times when a baker accidently left a loaf of bread in the rain and...

"blahblahblah schmekkktt?" (It means "did you like the meal?" in German)

My day-dreams had been interrupted by the waitress. Pulling myself out of my virtual ecstasy, I glance up to observe the origin of the rather sensual voice that has just awakened me...

Whoa momma.

This girl is beautiful. Like whoa. But that's not the point of this story. Lots of beautiful girls out there. I see them everyday. Nice, but not noteworthy. No. This chick had something else. She had style. She had class. She got moxy. But most importantly... she gave me "The Look" (My heart rate is reaching dangerous levels just writing this).

This chick shot me a look that might have killed a man who was more in touch than reality than I. I am going to try to describe exactly what happened. I am bound for failure, because this description is a lesson in futility. I cannot possibly capture the moment. But here is my best shot:

She was leaning over, palms on the tabletop, her head was cocked slightly to the left. Her body language screamed confidence and sexuality. Her eyes were adorned in black eye-liner, further accentuating the dark brown irises. Her hair was blonde. Her bod was killer. She was hot. She is hot. When I looked up at her, she gazed back down at me refusing to break eye contact. Bitch. When our eyes met, I saw her actually recognize the fact that she knew what she was doing. She has done this before. She is good. Here is a brief rundown of the following feelings and sensations I felt:

Step 1: Complete isolation. I felt an impending sense of doom. Think how Captain Kirk feels when the shields are down and a Romulan warbird is on the viewscreen (without magnification) and they are refusing to answer the hail. Hull breach imminent. I was in a state of catatonic disbelief. Running away was out of the question. I was too stupified. You know how animals start running away before an earthquake hits? They got the right idea.
Duration: 0.5 seconds

Step 2: Imagine being slugged in the chest with a cattle prod. Now scoff at how easy the cattle have it, multiply it by seven and send it coursing through all my veins. There is a feeling of electricity that runs through my body. I feel it most vividly in my calfs, chest, and elbows. I tense my muscles. The electricity is not instantaneous. It is like reaching the crest of a wave, and the descent is impending, slow, then faster, then complete. Heart rate accelerates. Breathing more rapid and shallow. Sweat forms on my forehead, back, and palms. I turn (more) pale.
Duration: 0.7 second

Step 3: You know the look on a little boy's face when he sees boobs for the first time? That.
Duration: 1.5 seconds

Step 4: Attempt speech. Fail.
Duration: Four trys

Step 5: Mumble incoherent German and offer an awkward smile and fumblings, giving the "A OK!" hand signal. Continue repeating "ser gut, ser gut" ("very good") until desired effect is achieved, namely, hottie walking away with a smile on her face.
Duration: 4 seconds

Step 6: Deep breath. The creeping sense of shame covers my body. I put my head in my hands and quietly laugh to myself.
Duration: 8 seconds

Step 7: Whip out my notebook and record the past 17.2 seconds.
Duration: the rest of the meal

Right now, 24 hours later, I can still see her face in my mind. The Look is something that I have seen before. It is the sense of mystery that emanates from it that attracts me so. However, the attraction is tempered by my realization of the attraction which in turn evolves into panic. My only hope is that eventually I shall become de-sensitized or immune to its disasterous effects. Time will tell.

The Look

Natalie recently pointed out that I live my life according to my next meal. Time is tracked according to which meal has just passed and my mood is dictated by my satisfaction or disgust with my gastronomic condition. Pity used to point this out as well, saying that I get cranky when I'm hungry. Whenever I was not in a talkative mood, he would yell out to me "Matty! Eat a sandwich!"

I think this is true, as I am currently eating breakfast (fruhstueck consisting of assorted breads and cheeses and a fine cup of coffee) in one of Munich's oldest cafes and I am quite content. Such was the case last night. I was in my favorite round-the-corner cafes where I usually order a small pasta dish (I have been on a mushroom kick this past week and can't get enough of the fungus. When I found out that the Roman emperor Claudius's favorite dish was mushrooms, I've been hooked. I guess I am an impressionable kind of guy. Or perhaps, just a friggin loser) and a tall glass of weissbier. Everything was going according to routine: I find a table against the wall (being in the middle makes me feel too exposed. I feel like I am on display and will often move all my stuff and my meal if a spot opens up against the wall), I break out my book (Paris: A Biography), and casually glance at the menu. Hmmm.... I know I will be drinking heavily tonight, so something hearty is best. Pasta carbonara. Perfect.

"Uhh... spaghetti carbonara und ein weissbier please.. uhhh.. bitte." (I purposely slip an English word in there to get the point across that I don't speak good German and that any sort of awkwardness in my speech is a result of said lack of ability. These little tricks have saved me many an accussing glance... I think).

CRAP. I have a tour in 15 minutes. Why is this post called "The Look"?? FIND OUT NEXT TIME!


Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Merry Christmas!

Quick post: Merry Christmas!

I spent my day giving a tour of Dachau concentration camp making people cry and my night at the Bavarian State Opera watching an opera in German and not understanding any of the plot! Actually, I had a blast. But I have to go, as I have another tour of Dachau in a half hour.


ps. I have not had internet access in a while, so the last two posts were written days ago but I could only post them today.

Do the Right Thing

Last night was supposed to be a quiet, contemplative night spent in solitary bliss, crawled up with my history of Paris book, warmed by the fluffy down comforter and the thoughts of successes to come. In bed by 10:30, I would awaken refreshed and motivated for my first city tour of Munich in 3 months. Opening my window, I would lean out and greet the new day with a hearty “Gut Morgen!” and proceed to powder my nose in preparation for the day’s events.

Instead I got drunk and woke up with a hangover.

There is a fantastic German tradition called “Stammtisch” which consists of old friends getting together every week or so and basically drinking themselves into oblivion. Philipp meets up with his friends at a cute little Bavarian restaurant in their home town (something that I realized about Bavarian culture/climate is that it closely resembles Vermont. The houses are mostly built out of dark woods, snow is perpetually falling in the winter, the mountains are easily accessible, and you need to be liquored up to stay warm). Luckily, I was able to attend this week’s Stammtisch with Natalie. After a hearty meal and a number of Munich’s finest brews, we ended the night in a sort of community center that Philipp had basically founded when he was younger. The place is in the basement of some building that I was too drunk to look at, and once downstairs there was a dancefloor, music, and naturally… more beer. Natalie and I have a civic duty to dance and sing (it’s in our contract) and make everybody else feel bad about themselves because we are so cool (either that or make them laugh hysterically due to our complete lack of social concern). After rockin to the beats of Michael and Justin, we called it a night and I freakin passed out.

Not before sending myself a text message though (kind of creepy waking up to a message I sent myself). It reads as follows: “key to the future, intermarriage”. Hmm. A rather profound thought for an inebriated brain. I am not sure why I thought of that at that moment, or quite what it means. My best guess is that I meant that a way to end racism, intolerance, bigotry, etc. is to mix the supposed “races” to show that the entire idea of “race” is complete bullshit that is a remnant of the 19th century. Through intermarriage, we can show that “race” is not concrete and a useless term which illustrates nothing and only serves to divide people. Take me for example: What “race” am I? I don’t know! My grandmother is Puerto Rican, and my grandfather is Russian Jewish, and on the other side it is a mix of German and Irish. Well… fuck. I don’t fit any “race” category. If you really want to dig deep, I am even part African! [Puerto Rico, along with most of the Caribbean, was populated by extinct native groups of people (“Caribs”, though maybe one island has a small population of descendants… I kind of remember reading that) who were wiped out by the colonizing Spanish (Christopher Columbus). The land was then resettled by African slaves and Spaniards, Dutch, English, etc. Therefore, Caribbean people today are a mix of African and European peoples.] “Race”=antiquated crap. “Culture” or “Heritage” or “Background” or “Descendants”= totally cool and actually useful terms. People look different, different colors, different clothes and foods… that’s culture. “Race” is indefinable and I guess is supposed to represent what area of the world people are from, but there is only one “race”… which is of course, the human race.

In conclusion, I had fun with my tour today and hate the idea that people should stay within their own “race”, because “race” does not exist.

Merry Christmas!

Large and In Charge

“With great power comes great responsibility.” Very true. However, with great power comes great urges to wield great power. Sometimes those urges are overwhelming. Sometimes… just sometimes… with great power, comes soiled undies.

It’s been weird having a degree of authority over people who I used to work with. Just a few months ago we were equals, collectively bitching and moaning about the mindless babblings of management and questioning their illogical projects. Solidarity was born through mutual misery. Suddenly, though, I am the man. I am management. Nothing really has changed with me or my personality, but currently there is a necessary degree of separation between the other employees and myself. This makes me uncomfortable. I haven’t changed, per se, but the situation has. Now, being friendly with your employees (which I guess they are now) is not always a good idea, especially if you have to eventually fire them, discipline them, etc.
Eh. I have an awful taste in my mouth. I’M A MONSTER! (Arrested Development… anybody?) But at the same time, I know that I can learn from my boss’s past mistakes (namely, insensitivity). I’ll just have to keep on truckin’ and do the best I can.

But hell, when I go to Paris in a few weeks, my job, as told to me by the owner, is to basically begin the Great Tour Guide Purge 2K8. I am to go in as the outsider, access and analyze the current tour-guides and then take necessary actions (you know what that means). I don’t have a relationship with any of them so I guess this is the best way for a company to fire people. The owner actually suggested that I read Machiavelli’s “The Prince” as a guide. Holy crap.
Basically, according to our Italian Renaissance friend, I should go in there as an asshole, fire people, burn them at the stake, pillage and chop off some heads, then ease up, grant amnesties and relax my iron-fisted grip. The piss-ants will think me magnanimous and worthy.
The alternative is to be the nice guy at first, making friends with the piss-ants, then possibly fire some… subsequently being viewed as an asshole. I don’t know about you, but I want to get the asshole taste over with as soon as possible. I don’t want a lingering taste of asshole (Note to Father: Don’t read this post to grandma).
“How many assholes do we have on this ship anyhow?” “Keep firing asshole!”

So I saw a nun on the train today. She cut all the zippers off her backpack. I guess nuns don’t care for advertising.


Friday, December 21, 2007


My Lord have I been busy. We have so much to cover and so little time! I think that the best way to bring you, lovely reader, up to date on my joyous journeys is through vignette form. Here are a few select instances in the past week that stick out in my mind:

1. I sat down for a wonderful European breakfast at this trendy little cafe the other day in Berlin (when I say "trendy" what I mean is that the service sucks, the people pretentious, and the portion size particularly puny, but the coffee is killer). To me, a European breakfast consists of an assortment of breads, cheeses, and maybe a little fruit. Everything the body needs! So, I order it up, wait for way too long, and then the waitress bring it over. Hoorah! A veritable orgy of proteins and carbohydrates awaiting consumption! Methinks I am a happy boy. I pick and sample, combine and spread, drink and eat. Ohhh... what is this? Obviously this is a European cheese I have not tried yet! Experimentation galore! I shall test it.... Hmmm... it's very soft and a bit slimy. I like that. It's kind of salty. Interesting. Try a bit more... wait a second. This isn't cheese. Shit. I just ate about a half a stick of butter.

2. I went out to a party with a co-worker of mine. It was a birthday party for his friend and I spent the next two hours sitting in a chair (a chair that was too good for me. We were all sitting in a room and I happen to pick the best chair in the entire house. I felt extremely uncomfortable. People are sitting on the lamanated wooden floors, and here I am, King Matthias I, seated atop his throne; I felt like an idiot), not saying a word. I couldn't understand anything. I just sat, like a moron, trying to gauge if a joke was told, to which I would slightly jiggle in faux-laughter. Torturous. We ended up going to a bar afterwards. A very Berlin underground bar. But, thanks to that wonderful Social WD-40 known as alcohol, pretty soon the entire room was speaking English like we were at the Queen's court. I made friends with a dude who spoke terrible English and tried to help him through it. Even in his barely comprehensible state, he made a profound statement. Something along the lines of "all we everybody needs is food, drink, house, and sex." It's poetic in it's simplicity. Regardless of Muslim, Jew, Indian, or Eskimo, we all need the same things. What is left after that is just icing on the cake, but it also goes by another name... "culture".

3. I blew it with the flate-mate situation. Big surprise.

4. I am reading Moby Dick for the first time. Wow. The classics used to scare me. They were an inaccessible myth. Something that only English majors read. How wrong I was! This is fantastic! Poetry in every paragraph! I often have to put the book down for a few moments in between sentences, just so I can reflect and savour what I just read. Magnificent.

5. I flirted with a waitress at a chic cafe the other day. She gave me the "ask me what I'm doing later" eyes (the kind where she doesn't break eye contact as she walked away from my table). Hot. Her smile... let me tell you about her smile. It was the kind of smile that can bring a strong man to his knees, lift his gaze skywards, and thank God for his worldly existence. The kind of smile that makes me think that love at first sight is a reality. The kind of smile that can bring world peace. The kind of smile that can start wars. She had the face that could launch a thousand ships. I kind of fancied her. But, I am in this funk where I acknowledge that I am leaving a given place soon, so I am unwilling to even explore a potential "situation" because I am afraid that I will actually really like her and then have to leave.

THIS JUST IN-- There has been a sudden scarcity of balls in Matt's pants. If you find any, please send immediately.

6. I took a road trip from Berlin to Munich. I loaded a mini-van-type thing with tour guide crap in Berlin, hopped in, turned on the radio, and took off. Let me tell you: The autobahn ain't worth the hype. Most people go at around 70 mph or so. Yeah, occasionally some Audi TT will blaze by at 150mph, but it's rare and fleeting. In my sexy man-van, I was chuggin at 73mph. More than that and I would have been on the evening news. I arrived in Munich in one piece, more familiar with the German countryside (beautiful), German radio (better than the US), and German drivers (worst on the planet).

That's all for now. I am in Munich doing all sorts of administrative crap. I enjoy it though. The business world gives me a little adrenaline boost. Must conquer and destroy competition. American imperialism at it's best. I'm off to a lunch date. Have your people call my people.


ps. I actually heard somebody in Berlin say, with disgust, "I fucking hate Pikies." I smiled with glee. If you have not seen the movie Snatch... go rent it right now.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Hiatus Apologies

Hey Everybody,

Sorry for the lack of posts for the past few days. It has been crazy. In brief:
1. Partying with Germans
2. Drinking with tour guides
3. Solo road trip from Berlin to Munich, driving down the autobahn singing "She's A Maniac".
4. I'm back in Munich.

I am stressed right now due to work, but I will finish it tonight. Therefore, I must respectfully bow out and promise that, like MacArthur, I shall return.

Look forward to a post tomorrow!

Monday, December 10, 2007

All I Want For Christmas...

If I could have anything for Christmas this year, it would be a pair of balls.

I think I lost mine.

This is textbook "How Not to Attract The Opposite Sex." The saga continues: You remember that there is this girl, who is currently my flatmate, who I kind of fancy. Nothing deep, I just like the cut of her jib. Two nights ago we stay up until 4:30 talking about times past, the wonderful present, and the bright horizon of wonderful things to come over a nice bottle of 5 euro red wine (Spanish rioja), simultaneuously being seranaded by the soulful sounds of Miles Davis. Sounds nearly picturesque, right? Ended in a night of passionate exclamations of unending bliss? No. She asked if I wanted to use the bathroom first (that could be dirty out of context, but she meant did I want to brush my teeth before I went to bed, alone, first).

Here's how I fcuked it up: I just can't seem to make a move. I am paralyzed by pathetic ponderances. Overthinking every word she mutters, I am psyching myself out. Does that mean go in for the kill? Does this mean I should offer my first born son? Maybe this means it's time to consider a life of solitude scratching my hairy parts in a remote outcropping outside Lake Titicaca.

If I had those cherished balls for which I so dearly pine, I would walk into her room right now (she is less than 20 feet away from me on her cell phone) seize her arm (in a manly/romantic Humphrey Bogart fashion) lift her from her chair (she would clutch my bulging bicep to steady herself) and say "Hey kid, sorry about last night. **SMOOCH** (my fedora partially obscures the shot) It won't happen again." Then I would board the last departing plane and not look back. But she would run after me, her USO uniform flapping alluringly in the propeller draft, her high heels clicking on the wet tarmac, "But Matt, we barely knew each other." Then I'd turn around (the camera zooms fast to my face as I turn. I have a "I knew you'd say that" smirk) "We can fix that right now." After that, I throw her over my shoulder and slap her buttocks repeatedly, shouting "I'M THE KING OF THE MOUNTAIN, HEAR ME ROAR!"

Maybe I'll change that last part. Probably not.
In all seriousness, I feel like I have made it abundantly clear that I am interested. But then again, I can think big but often come up short. I need to be like "Listen, you know I'm asking you on a date right now, right?" But that seems forced.

I think my friends Jemaine and Bret explain the situation perfectly:

Enjoy my misery,

Sunday, December 9, 2007

No Man's Land

I hate it when I am sitting down in the streetcar, and then, uninvited, another rider sits opposite me. Well there goes my ability to thoughtlessly gaze about completely unobstructed. Now I have to not look in the direction of this other passenger. It is perfectly kosher to shoot an introductory glance; a "I'm making sure you're not packing heat" look. But after that, any eye contact whatsoever is strictly off limits. If I ever catch another passenger looking at me, I actually feel like I can declare a minor victory. Gotcha you sonofabitch.

But now I have this other passenger across from me, seated facing towards me. The situation couldn't be more awkward. We are looking right at each other, but can't actually look at each other. I can only glance to either side of their head (and the head has an associated buffer zone on either side where I can't look either). This makes for awkward transitions when I have to cross the Romulan Neutral Zone as quickly as possible to get to the other side of their head, to look out the opposite window (did I just unknowingly admit that I was/am a Star Trek nerd? Thanks dad).

I usually end up fumbling with my hands to pass the time. Or I scribble notes to make the other person nervous (when travelling, I always keep a little note pad and pen in my coat pocket in case I suddenly think of something to write in this blog. When I was sitting there, I realized the humor in this situation and jotted down a little note to help me remember, but simultaneously freaked out the girl sitting across from me. Here's this sketchy looking dude who laughed out loud to himself, whips out a pen and pad and scribbles jibberish on it).

Just had to vent,

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Schmoozin' and Boozin'

Dark suits. Cold hands, wet with drink perspiration. Transparent smiles. Group huddles around small pieces of furniture. Promises soon to be forgotten.

Shoot me in the kidney. I'm becoming a businessman.

I didn't realize it at first. Things seemed a little different, but I shrugged it off and dismissed it merely as "I'm in a new environment and it's natural to feel uncomfortable." But then I started detecting subtle changes. For one, I was shaking a hand every fifteen minutes. I started rubbing elbows with the upper management. However, it didn't really hit me until a friend of mine (an extremely funny Irish girl. When I say Irish, I'm not talking Colin Ferrell Irish {is he Irish?}, but I'm talking Michael Flatley Irish. This chick is fluent in Gaelic for christ's sake. Her accent is absolutely charming, with my favorite pronounciation being that she doesn't say "Third Reich" but instead "Turd Reich" {That would be a great band name}) said to me that I was now the company's "little toy". Then it hit me like a 1-2 from Lennox Lewis (random choice of boxer): I am no longer one of the little guys. I am officially "middle management."

Horrifying! Being a little guy was fantastic. Things were easy. You show up, do the tour, make money, go home. Done. Not any more.

I was finishing up my dinner at a quaint little Berlin restaurant last night (they have one of my favorite beers there: a Dunkels Hefe, which is basically a darker wheat beer) when I get a call from one of my managers. Naturally, when his name pops up on my cell phone I have a panic attack. I did something wrong and I don't even know what, and worse yet, he is going to tell me exactly what that mystery thing is. Dammit. There goes my post-dinner high.

But no, he is not calling to reprimand me. Instead, he invites me to a party that is serving free booze. I start to run. I have a 1 in 360 chance that it is in the right direction. I'll take that chance. It turns out that this party is special though. Only certain people can go. I tell him that I am about to meet up with my Irish friend, but he says "You should be here now. And Matt, don't bring the Irish chick." Whoa. Lesson #1: Don't be too friendly with those that work for you. Ouch. That reeks of capitalist indifference. I'll hold my breath.

I show up to the party and everybody is in a suit or dress, with a security blanket drink in one hand, and shaking free hands with the other. The owner of the company calls me over and I realize that this is not a party. This is a freakin' business affair. I have to be on my best behavior (but at the same time fully appreciate the free booze. I'm just thinking economically here). He introduces me to "one of our most important partners." Oh great, what the hell am I supposed to say to this dude? "Hi I'm Matt, may I felate you?"

My job as far as I see it is to schmooze. I mingle, make small talk, subtly hit on the ladies, talk about the ladies with the dudes. I behave myself when appropriate and make dirty jokes when called for. I am a corporate geisha, at the service and disposal of my masters.

How was your day?

ps. Later that night I got tanked (way too much) at a co-worker's party. I knew you would want to hear how the story ended. Somebody go revive my mother.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Matt's Basic Mis-Guidance, Part II: The Over Share

Now hold on a sec! Are you telling me that you are still making it with the ladies? They have not run in fear, spilling their valuables onto the pavement in a vain attempt to escape your blumbering attempts at conversation? Well have I got news for you! Here comes Basic Mis-Guidance Part II: The Over Share.

For reasons unknown, I have the annoying habit of spilling all my beans way too early in a conversation with a new person. Things that should not be revealed for years (if ever) I have the need to tell right away. My guess is that I am trying to be free and honest, but I know that it comes off as strange and sketchy. Combine that with tense nerves and raging hormones and disaster is usually to follow. Here are a few brief examples of things I shouldn't ever discuss, but enthusiastically bring up in the first ten minutes of conversation:

1. Love of musical theatre
2. Love of dancing
3. Love of singing
4. Love of history
5. my mother

Well now isn't that great? She is going to think I am a gay, dork, momma's boy. Honestly I don't know how she is possibly keeping her hands off me at this point. I must be irresistable. Not quite...

In conclusion, if you are looking to scare a good girl away, feel free to expand on my list with these other juicy morsels:

Current girlfriends
Irritating rashes
Sexual fetishes
Current medications
Violent thoughts
Voices in your head
Talking toothbrushes

If she isn't running scared after that... you should be.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Matt's Basic Mis-Guidance to Dating

So you want to lose with the ladies? Looking to have them run away in fear/uncontrollable laughter? Well you are in luck, because I have the insider knowledge that will have you on the fast track to a restraining order in no time!

To bring you up to date: I was sort of intrigued by my boss's flatmate recently (update: I am living temporarily in my boss's apartment while he is away for a week in Paris). After building up my courage like the cowardly lion I am, I got up the guts to ask her out for a drink. That's what I do. We "go out for a drink." It's very neutral. There aren't any expectations. She knows it won't be a candle-lit dinner, which could be very intimidating. But at the same time it's not "2 for 1 Ladies Night" at the local honky tonk saloon. No, it's "a drink" which, to me, usually means a nice, dimly/perfectly lit restaurant or wine bar, where there is audible music (preferably a light droning electro/mood music) to cover possible awkward silences, and the possibility of conversation is very high. The wait-staff is wearing all black and the bar area is under-lit in soft neon glow. You know the place. Right there.

But first... the pitch. You need to seal the deal. Here's how I did it this time (and, unfortunately, how I all too often do it): I ask what she is "up to" tonight. Innocent question. Here's where I totally f*ck it up:
"Hey ____, what are you up to tonight?"
"Oh nothing much, my..."
(interrupting)"Cool, would you want to maybe get a drink?"
(overlapping) "...Dad is coming tonight to help me move a sofa."
(recovering too enthusiastically)"Oh cool! (voice raises an octave and sweat appears on the palms) Do you need a hand?"
(getting weirded out)"No thanks. That's sweet. We'll be..."
(interrupting)"Rockin' {one of my favorite phrases that should have stopped being used in the late 80's}. Maybe afterwards?"

Here's the problem. At this point, any of my "game" has gone out of the window. Oh sure, before this I was full of charm and elegance. I knew the perfect moments of when to look her in the eye and when to cast my glance aside. I knew that precise instant where it would be killer if I just jokingly nudged her on the shoulder, breaking the touch barrier. I owned that. But now there's a problem. All the energy that I built up in the pre-pop-the-question minutes is now finding rapid release. I am losing it! My cool is gone.

I am no longer trying to ask her on a date.
I am solving a friggin' problem.
And that problem is me wanting to get her to say "yes" to a drink.

Unknowingly at that moment, my only goal was for her to say "sure." Or even a "I'll let you know." Her indecisivness/polite rejection was coming up on my radar as "First option destroyed. Proceed to Plan B."

After a few awkward moments she agreed to "have a drink" that night, and we did and it was nice. But that's not what this story is about. This is about how freakin' funny it is when I get as rambunctious as a seven year old with ADD eating a sleeve of Fun Dip. Social norms? Forgotten. "Game"? Out the window. Self respect? In the gutter.


ps. In case you aren't aware, self-deprecation is one of my forms of humor. I am certainly not down on myself. It's just in good fun. However, she didn't know that. She asked me why I put myself down. All I could do is chuckle to myself, hope this was just a cultural thing, and basically explain this was just my awkward way of breaking the ice. Which leads me to "Matt's Basic Mis-Guidance to Dating, Part II: The Over-Share." See you next time!

Monday, December 3, 2007



So How Bout Them Yankees?

There is a guy in our company who intimidates me. He is one of my many bosses and whenever he is around, my eyes scan the room for the closest window in case it is necessary to take a safety leap. He is one of those guys who doesn't need to say anything in order to find fault with others. He lets you do the incrimination. In conversation, he often stares at me without speaking, mid-conversation, forcing me to break the awkward silence with non-intelligable banter. Panic overcomes my normal thought processes during these situations and I just start talking about anything my feeble mind can puke up. Weather, traffic, bird migrations, bowels... anything to stop the deafening silence. After thoroughly humilitating myself, I usually walk away shaking my head and muttering outloud "You are a f*cking idiot Matt" multiple times. A favorite past time of mine is to mime shooting myself in the forehead. Literally, I will do this when nobody is around. It's a nice release.

As of now, I still can't find a solution to this problem. When he stops talking and starts staring, I can't just join in with him. Staring at a dude in silence isn't exactly my idea of a good time. There has to be a solution. Maybe I can create an imaginary illness that affects me at random and use it as an excuse to excuse myself (Excuse me?). Nah, that stuff can be investigated and revealed. Unfortunately, I cannot reasonably pre-plan a conversation to start up once this situation arises. Once there is silence, panic overcomes my body and my brain instantly transforms to moldy cottage cheese.

My only defense now has to be awareness. He is an incredibly smart guy and is probably fully aware of what he is doing. In fact, I see a faint smile run across his face when I start fumbling for words. Okay. It's time to apply the military maxim "Use an enemy's strength against him." (I need to get a life. By the way, I was assigned to spy on one of our tour guides today to see if he did a good tour, and you can't imagine how excited I was. I'm surpirsed I didn't apply for a gun permit.) Now, the next time I see him, and this thing starts to happen, I am going to pull an "I'm too cool for school" and instead of vomit-talking, I will just pull up the closest chair (or lean back if already seated) and bring up sex. Side-note: This guy is obsessed with himself and sex, and the combination of the two. This is perfect. What is the best way to avoid a monster? Throw one of the fat guys in front of it. Feed the monster. Turn the conversation from Moron Matt into Hey That New Tour Guide is Pretty Hot. I might not actually think that, but no matter. The attention has been diverted and I am saved. Praise the gods. Let's hope this goes according to plan.

Famous last words?


"Hell, these people are cleaner and a damned sight friendlier than the French. They're our kind of people." - A liberating G.I. refers to the German people.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Berlin, First Impression, Second Movement


Mention the city name, and images start to come to mind: The Wall. Hitler and the Nazis. Rubble. David Hassellhoff. Take any event of significance in 20th century politics and realize that it probably happened in Berlin. World War I, World War II, the Cold War. The history is overwhelming. If you can't already tell, I sort of dig this place.

Let it be known that I have not abandoned my first love, dear old Munich. No, I shall forever hold Munich close to my heart. But Berlin is different and I am growing to appreciate that.

Munich: spotless. sophisticated. chic. conservative. welcoming. relaxing. "gemutlichkeit". (one of those fantastic words that doesn't have a direct translation in English {how friggin pretentious do I feel right now [and I'm loving it]}. Gemutlichkeit is sort of that idea of a community which feels like a family. "Warmth" is one way of putting it. Here's an example: Walk into a restaurant and you immediately feel at home as the other patrons smile pleasantly at you and the waiter gives a hearty "Gruss Gott!" You know that feeling when you walk into a bakery or barbershop and you just feel like you belong, almost as if they were waiting for you? That is gemutlichkeit. Live it.)

Berlin: new. edgy. modern. grungy. liberal. underground.

But, I have still only been here for about four days, so I will not make any judgements yet. Just know that as of now, I can see the allure and how the city lives up to its hype.

As of now I have just been taking tours of the city with our company, trying to learn all of the details of the various buildings, memorials, and streets. I have a test on Tuesday, so keep your fingers crossed.
Right now I am living in my boss's apartment, as he is going away on business for a week. Thought the hostel wasn't too bad, it is incomparable to life with privacy. For those of you who don't know, I am a very private person (I say that with a cheeky wink, as this blog is evidence to the contrary). But honestly, I need my space and need the opportunity to escape from public life to my only little sanctuary. If denied this basic human right, I start to get progressively crankier (Hmm, a thought just entered my head: what are the basics that I, Matt, need for survival. What I mean is, given food and water, what else would I need in order not to lose my mind? What little quirks do I need to satisfy? Well, first off is hot water. I friggin' need hot showers to survive. It is my personal form of meditation. I could go without showering for days if not weeks if necessary {overshare?}, but give me a cold shower and I will out to kill. I also need good sleep. Those nights of crashing on some friend's couch with only my blazer to cover me are forever etched in my brain as a prelude to Hell.).

But enough about that, let's talk about sex. Give the people what they want, right? Well, a funny thing happened about ten minutes ago that I figure you would enjoy: So I am living at my boss's apartment right? He has two flatmates who I have not met yet... Until now! He has a very cute, very single (she made that clear) flatmate who lives in the room next to me. (Cue the "bow chica bow wow").

Watch me cower in the corner and soil myself,

Saturday, December 1, 2007

I'll Take a De-Caf

Chalk up my first foreign friend in this, my second European excursion. On my flight to Vienna, I happen to sit next to a delightful Swedish man and we talked for much of the nine hour plane ride. I knew things were going good when he asked another passenger (an American) where row 30 was in German, and I answered back to him in that wonderful language. “Drei-zig ist hier.” Ahh, feels just like the old times. I’ve still got it. Pigeon-German is my specialty.

Anyway, we sat down and got to chatting. He is originally from Sweden, but has lived in Vienna, Paris, New York and various other important cities all his life. Currently he is an antique dealer in Manhattan (and has sold merchandise to Brad Pitt {who is charming and down to earth}, Whoopi Goldberg {a personal friend}, Barbara Streisand {a bitch}, Robert de Niro {unpleasant}, and Harrison Ford {a micro-managing perfectionist}). We talked about history, Lafayette, politics, music, theatre, French wines, yachting, etc. (Let it be known that I had to bullshit my way through half of our conversations. I might like wine, and I can tell a good wine from a bad wine, but that’s about it. And yachting? Please. Not all Trinity grads have been yachting. But he doesn’t know that.). Well, this trip has started wonderfully!

Then my luck ran out. Dammit. This was bound to happen. I got out of the airport, searched for the city trains, and eventually found my way to the center of Vienna… kind of. First, I got lost for about two and a half hours. It seems that in my attempt to get to the city center, I walked in the completely wrong direction. Like, the exact opposite of correct. After multiple “do you speak English?” (In German, of course. I just don’t know how to spell “Sprechen zie English” {that might be right}) queries, I finally found my way there. A wonderful city. Very charming. Not touristy like Prague, yet still has that old city feel. However, I found that I don’t quite have my walking legs anymore and I had to sit down rather often. The problem with that, however, is that whenever I want to sit down I have to sit at a cafĂ© (it’s too cold to sit outside). That means I have to order a drink. Four cups of coffee and two cappuccinos later, compounded by not sleeping for 26+ hours, I am about to have a friggin’ heart attack. Totally tweaking out over here. My ears are ringing and my legs are quivering (I don’t know if that’s the caffeine or the exercise). Plus, I am burning through money faster than MC Hammer circa 1991. In a vain attempt to remedy the situation, I have barricaded myself in an airport bar where I am drinking terrible Austrian red wine (they are known for their whites apparently. My bad.). Let’s see how long I can keep this up.

Oh, and to top it off, I went to re-load my cell phone with minutes at a place here and ended up accidentally buying an Austrian SIM card. Bottom line, I wasted about 10 euros or so for no reason whatsoever. Fantastic. I’m an idiot. Then the battery died. It took a piece of my soul with it.

No matter. My flight to Berlin is in a few hours and I my blood sugar will hopefully have mellowed out by then. Another glass of the red please.


It Starts...

Hey Guys! These next two posts are outdated, as I didn't have internet access when I wrote them. But, look forward to new posts with current information shortly:

The familiar smells of sanitation, the sound of shuffling feet and jingling change, restless travelers nervously clutching their essential documents and double checking the gate number. Ah, yes. We are back in the airport; one of the few places on Earth where the international community gets along and respects each other. You know, it’s sort of like Mutually Assured Destruction (the idea that nobody will launch a nuke because then everybody else would launch their own). Here, the majority of people are on edge and only worried about themselves and their schedules. Nobody has time to worry about or really take into consideration the dilemmas of those “others” that abound. Therefore, we all get along! We’re in this together.

I like to sit back and quietly observe the rest of my fellow travelers as if they were the subjects in my giant lab experiment. I sit back with my last American beer in hand (Sam Lager) and ask: How do they interact? What do they sound like? To me, all I really hear above the hum of conversation are the percussive “s” and “t” (It kind of reminds me of those times in my youth when I used to go to church with my family. During the Lord’s Prayer, I always got a kick out of the repetitive “s” and “t” sounds in the following passage: “And forgive us our Lord, as we forgive those who trespass against us, and deliver us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.” I wonder if they did that on purpose? Mark, Luke, Paul, John… Ringo. You sly devils.)

Sitting down in the more comfortable-than-I-remember chairs next to my gate (faux-leather and all), I suddenly remember how I dearly hate wireless internet terminals that charge for the service. They are sadistic a-holes. I swear, these terminals are fed on pain, despair, and tears. Here’s why: I open up my laptop and am overwhelmed with joy to discover that I have a signal. Joyous cherubs alight! I have a friggin’ signal! I think I shall check my email and watch videos of Peter Frampton concerts from 1973 (Do You Feel Like We Do?). Double clicking the Internet Explorer, my toes are wiggling with anticipation. But to my disgust, the page asking for credit card information pops up. Immediately I ponder if I have the technical wherewithal to hack past this crap and give Boingo Wireless (no joke, that’s the name) a firm, erect middle finger. Then I remember that I broke my iPod by leaving it in the rain. Right. I think I’m going to be stumped by this one. You win Boingo. You always do.

By the time I post this, it will be moot as I will be in Vienna or Berlin, but I just wanted to vent.