Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Around the World in 800 Words

I just realized that I haven't given an "I'm doing well!" post in a while. I knew you were worried about me. Thank you for your concern.

Things are going reasonably well here in Paris. I mean, I am busy as hell. As the City Manager (in capitals), it is my duty to make sure that the entire company is running smoothly, from tours to pub crawls to deliveries to pick-ups (don't ask) to staff morale. It's on my mind 24 hours a day. What's the pay-off? Well, I live in an apartment in Montmartre, which is one of the artistic centers of the city. Pretty cool. I also have a bit of cash to blow at reasonably priced restaurants. That's nice. Otherwise, I guess that having this experience is good for any sort of job in the future. I mean, management of an entire branch of a multi-national company. Not too shabby.

In case you can't tell from my tone (which is rather dry), I am not overjoyed with this position. I don't like being the bad guy. I don't like working at all hours of the night. I am not paid enough to make it all feel better.

Solution: I need to find a way of seperating work from life. Unfortunately, my apartment is also the office, so I am always surrounded by work related things. Plus, my cell phone is always at my side, meaning my boss can (and does) contact me at any hour. That sucks. But, if I can successfully switch from work mode to leisure mode more effectively, that would make life much more enjoyable. We'll see how that goes.

Perhaps subconsciously I betrayed my true emotions today when I spent two hours looking for jobs in Mongolia. No joke.

My dream advertisement:
"Mongolia- A family of fifteen is looking for an energetic, somewhat mentally inconsistant, young man to help around the house and farm. Room and three daily meals included. Tasks include: milking the dogs, planting jelly beans, chopping wood, chanting, folk dancing, and marrying the eldest daughter. Pay is minimal."
Mmmm... I can already smell the freshly fermented horse milk.

I think that a criteria for my next destination is that I have to have a remote possiblity of being killed. I'm not talking about mercenary soldier work in Kenya. But there should at least be a slight chance that I will catch an infectious disease somewhere.

Just kidding. Somebody revive my mother.

But you get my point. I am growing bored of Western European culture. Not that there is anything wrong with it, it's just not a heckova whole lot different than American culture. I was looking for a knock-me-on-my-ass cultural experience in Europe... and it's not really here. We are all very similar. That's one thing I've learned. It's ridiculous to hate the French or hate the Germans or hate Americans. We're basically the same. We have a shared history. Houli and I had a discussion related to this: How our generation is really the first one to be able to break down long established stereotypes via the backpacking phenomena. Young people travelling after college, meeting others doing the same thing. This is what it takes to realize that "others" are not so different. Instead of being a slave to how media usually portrays the "other", we can make judgements for ourselves. "Hey, that American isn't an arrogant asshole! Hey, that Iranian is a nice guy! Hey, that Australian isn't a drunk! Wait.. no.. he's drunk." That's why I want to go somewhere that isn't white, Christian, technologically up-to-date. Something that is truly different and unseen. I imagine I would discover that "they" are not so different from "us" either... but I want to actually see that. In due time, young Matthew. First, I have a job in France to attend to, then Spain.
After that... the world is my oyster.

-Matt
http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=GePMpDjrubg

watch this, especially at 2:00 minutes.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Jamie's Crying

Oh man. I am sitting it my room right now. It's Monday night at 11:45pm. A baby or young child of some sort is crying in the apartment below me. I gotta tell you: it's breaking my heart. The sound of a child in distress can transcend cultural/linguistic/national borders. It's pure. It's terrible.

Christ. I can't stand it. It sounds like this kid is crying his eyes out. I know, sometimes a child can be stubborn and outright wrong. I was that way until the age of 21. But dammit, cut 'em some slack. This kid is wailing. Oh man. This is really effecting me. I kind of want it to stop, but at the same time I am thinking "Keep going kid!"

Oh hell. I don't know what I am saying. I just want him/her/it to stop...

Wait. It stopped. Ok. I am going to sleep. Hang in there kid.
-Matt

Sunday, January 27, 2008

They're Grrrreat!

I awoke this morning for one reason:

Breakfast cereal.

I just got a new cereal, and let me tell you, the sun is shining bright in central France. In all honesty, I haven't eaten cereal in many years. Throughout college I got into the habit of a solid nutritious breakfast of eggs, toast, yogourt, etc. Cereal was a part of my past. It was childish. I would be ashamed. Not to mention, the selection was abysmal: either bible-thin flakes dunked in crack or goat-poop chocolate balls that left minute lacerations on my tongue. Um, no. I'll pass thankyouverymuch.

Until now! I found a cereal here that is manly. Thick flakes... no, "flakes" will not do. Women eat flakes... ah yes, CHIPS. Much more manly. Thick chips covered in oats, grains, and corn. The things that men eat. The staples in the hearty diet of every lumberjack. Chips so thick that it sounds like I am eating shards of broken glass. In fact, I put shards of glass in the bowl because I am so manly. I can take it. Look at me. One hundred and sixty pounds of man, wood, grain, and sex.

What is the name of this Valhalla of Vitality, this Elysium of Extacy, this Heaven of Heterosexuality?

Nestle's Fitness: For the Line, For the Form.
On the front of the box is a the outline of a woman and an unnecessarily magnified picture of the cereal on a silver spoon. There are many varieties, including chocolate, cappoccino, and normal, but I chose multi-grain.

Fitness is one of those cereals that is marketed towards women, kind of like Special K (though Special K is also available). What I love is that there is absolutely nothing in this cereal that is especially women-friendly. It's cereal for Darwin's sake! Damn those marketeers and their good ideas. Now men across the planet who are looking for a cereal that is high in fiber, low in sugar, and not Wheaties (I hate Wheaties for the above mentioned reason that they are so thin that the cereal transforms into a brown paste in five minutes, not to mention the agony of trying to fish for the last few flakes in the bowl. At that point, my only motivation is clearing the bowl of debris, as the pay-off is certainly not the flavor) must go for the cereals marketed towards women. What does this mean? Do the marketeers think that women are smarter and healthier than men?
Eh, they're probably right.
-Matt

Friday, January 25, 2008

Fatigue

Dude. I am tired. Work has kept me quite busy recently. Deliveries, interviews, tours, problems, pub crawls. I need a vacation. But by tomorrow, most of it will be done. So, no post today, but tomorrow you can learn about how I overheard a drug deal at a cafe and the other random goings-on.

Until then,
Matt

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Wow. I wrote that last one late at night while delirious from a very long day of work. Please excuse the childishness. Though, reading it again, I kind of chuckled.

Monday, January 21, 2008

To Pee or Not To Pee

So I was peeing just a few seconds ago and I realized something: I am very self-conscious of the audible volume of my pee. Allow me to explain: When a dude is peeing, he has to aim his pee-stream. It's only natural and completely understandable. But where to direct the stream?

Option number 1: You can aim for the porcelain interior of the bowl (not in the water), thereby dulling the pee-sounds. But then people will be like "Dude, what's with that guy? I can't even hear him! He went inside to pee and I can't hear him. Is he even peeing? He must have a serious problem. Either he must have big prostate or a small wee wee. Let's not socially interact with him."

Option number 2: You can pee at the edge of the water. This produces a higher pitched pee-sound, but this can again be misinterpreted. Let's be honest, everybody can hear me pee. If I choose option 2, they will think I am a sissy with my falsetto pee-sound.

No, I choose option 3: Pee in the middle of the bowl, right into the water where it is deepest (meaning it is right into the pipe that takes the pee to the cesspool). In order to pull off an option 3, a dude needs balls. He needs moxy. He needs gusto. It takes a great deal of confidence to pee here, as everybody can hear you. You must be proud to say "Yes, listen to me pee. It is a solid stream and I am proud of it. I have a deep sexy baritone pee-voice." And who even knew that pee-voice's existed! You do, most righteous reader. You do.

-Matt

Miss Information

Right when I finished my previous post, I go back to CNN.com for some last minute browsing (even though the writing is terrible and filled with errers. Why cant they even spell corectly?).

The Headline reads: Thousands pay respect to Hillary
Wow. If this was important enough to be ranked under the Top Stories section, this must mean that Hillary is pulling ahead of Obama. Dammit. Let's read the article and find out what happened!:

AUCKLAND, New Zealand (AP) -- Thousands of New Zealanders filed solemnly past the casket of Mount Everest conqueror Sir Edmund Hillary on Monday as they paid final respects a day ahead of his state funeral.

You've got to be kidding me. Kudos to the guy, as I don't think it gets any more bad-ass than climbing Mt. Everest... but come on. Talk about mis-leading information. I think we could use a credible source now for some closing comments. Eh, fuck it, let's ask this guy on the street (I quote):

"He was a great man of the last century," said Jagpal Kang, 56, an Auckland taxi driver.



Thanks Jagpal. You're a real pal.
-Matt

Nom de Guerre

http://edition.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/africa/01/21/liberia.general.ap/index.html
Headline reads: "Ex-Warlord confesses to 20,000 deaths".
Scary stuff. Curiosity seizes my fingertips as I click the hyperlink. Scanning the article, I stop, blink a few times, scratch my head, and return to the first sentence. It reads as follows:

MONROVIA, Liberia (AP) -- One of Liberia's most notorious rebel commanders, known as Gen. Butt Naked, has returned to the nation his troops terrorized to confess, saying he is responsible for 20,000 deaths.

His name is Gen. Butt Naked. Honestly, if I was looking to strike fear into the hearts (or stir the bowels) of my enemies with a kick-ass name, "butt naked" would be towards the bare-bottom of my list. Right there alongside Sgt. Snowflakes and Captain Pussy Willow (that was Snoop's name before he hit it big). Dude, if I had to give myself a worthless rank and change my name I think I would choose either:
1. General Piledriver
2. Rear Admiral Ass Kicker
3. Sgt. Slaughter (dammit, that one is already taken...)
4. Captain Big Guns
5. Col. Fuck Off

Is it just my imagination, or can all of those be porn movies as well? Huh.
But in all fairness, Gen. Butt Naked's name derived from "sending troops into battle naked to terrorize enemy." Well, does Mr. Naked have something he'd like to share with the rest of the class? He insists on personal control of thousands of naked screaming men? Oh really?? If I lived in a small village, I don't think I would be any more terrorized by naked soldiers compared to fully clothed ones. In fact, quite the opposite. Clothed soldiers can wear scary uniforms and cheap sunglasses circa 1983. But naked soldiers? Dude. I think Mr. Naked is trying to reach out to us.

Reading along:
"Drugged fighters waltzed into battle wearing women's wigs, flowing gowns and carrying dainty purses stolen from civilians."

You've got to be kidding me. Did they also have Liza Minelli playing over the loudspeakers?
And what's with the adjective "waltzed"? Well, if you ask me, it's pretty tough to waltze into battle. I doubt they mean that literally, as waltzing is hard enough (and a tad antiquated), never mind being simultaneously drugged up.

Wait... how can his troops be naked but also wear flowing gowns? Damn you CNN!
-Matt

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Tim Burton Would Be Proud

Today I wandered around a cemetary for about two hours. I don't know why, really. There is nobody famous buried there (except Dalida, the French version of Cher... except Dalida was hot), but I enjoyed it. Perhaps I have a weird facination with death. Eerie, I know. But I think it's natural. Walking around the tombs of unknown thousands, formulating life stories based on the busts and other decorations of the grave: what better way to pass the time in Paris!

While daydreamingily meandering through rows upon rows of ornate coffins, I remembered a conversation I once had with my father. We discussed the entire idea of that empty spot on a tombstone. That blank space is reserved for when the deceased has a family member who also dies; then their name, DOB, and date of death are inscribed in that space.

What a horrifying concept! Imagine looking at a grave stone. There is your loved one's name and the day that they died. Right below that... nothing... yet. That smooth granite is eventually going to have your name carved in it, along with the day that you died! Talk about a feeling of impending doom.

I need to stop thinking about this. I need a drink (luckily I have to attend a company party in a half hour. Offical business stuff: scmoozing with the new business partner).
Cheers,
Matt

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Living on the Dole

It's tough living on the fringes of Parisian society. Money has been tighter than Mama Cass's waistline after the breakfast buffett with lots of milk. Honestly, I envy her. I've been living off of baguettes, camembert, (which is much better than brie, in my experience) and multi-fruit juice for the past six days. It might sound nice at first. Warm, freshly baked bread spread with the most delicate and creamy cheeses enjoyed in the breezy Parisian air...

Try eating that shit for a week. I have a headache and an artery harder than Bob Dole at the Moulin Rouge.

What hurts most is realizing the complete change in lifestyle. In Munich I was riding high, spending dollar bills like it was my business (well, actually euro notes... but that's not as catchy). One night it was schweinsbraten mit drei knoedel, the next it was tagliollini with mushrooms in a white wine sauce. I was living life to the fullest.

Now, I am eating four day old milk products off of an old dirty spoon. Things could be better.

But hell, I'll keep going. I'm in Paris for god's sake.
Cheers,
Matt

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Good Morning, Good MORNING!

If I could pick one person to meet at right this moment (this answer would change depending on time, month, year, hormones, etc.) it would be Fred Astaire. Dude could dance, and I kind of wish I was living his life right now. Spend time on screen being a Grade A Badd-Ass, schmoozing with beautiful leading ladies, wearing spiffy tuxedos at all hours of the day ("Hmm, shall I go with the top hat and cane or the mandarin collar today?"), having the world marvel at your talents, having the ability to instill a desire for otherwise heterosexual men to put tap shoes on and dance through the streets singing a gay and jolly tune... What's not to love?

My appreciation for The Man comes from my newest addiction: I have been watching videos of old television shows and movies on YouTube. Things like "Whats My Line?" and "Martin and Lewis" and clips from "Singing in the Rain". Besides the humor of Jerry Lewis (whom I adore) being actually accessible to a modern audience (perhaps the humor is not received as intended, but just the nostolgia makes me burst into applause.... alone. Right. Maybe it's time to get a life/mental help), the feel-good feeling that these clips leave with me is unlike almost any other form of entertainment, save the theatre.

-----

This morning I woke up with a delicious hangover. Not your typical vein-popping, head-throbbing, temple-squeezing, room-spinning, puke-coughing hangover; but a rather mild, dare I say "pleasant", one. My mouth is dry (that's from the red wine), and there is only the slightest pressure on top of my head (that's kind of friggin odd. No explaining that one.) A nice reminder of last night, which was spent eating baguettes and camembert and drinking cheap French wine in the lovely company of Mr. HMS, Mr. Houlihan, and the lovely Ms. Kaye.

I always loved the parts in historical letters where the writer describes people they meet. This is an art form that has been lost mainly because digital photography, the internet, and speedy transportation. That's okay, as it is an antiquated practice... but it is fun to imagine them based on the writer's description. So, in the interest of historical mimicry, I hereby cast my pen with the lot. Without further adieu, I present to you a short description of my party guests in aristocratic, haughty, Queen's English!


Dearest Elenor,

It hath been nearly a fortnight since I heard from you last, and I dare say, my wollocks are in a tumble! Hath you grown fatigued of our tender romance? Doeth the governor approveth our union? Please, I beg you, make haste in your reply. I cannot wait a moment longer. I shan't not consume nor slumber until I am basking in the softening glow of your soothing words; the glow which shall embrace my lonely and weeping soul and nurse it to health anew!

I digress. Yesterday evening, I had the wonderful opportunity to host a small collection of acquaintances in my humble chambers. Mr. Chattingsworth was unable to attend due to a most unfortunate riding accident, and Ms. Kensington hath chartered a steam ship bound for America! To think! That land of beastly savages, skinning their victims alive and drinking the blood from their own children! Swoons! Let them have their independance, for they are certainly not welcome here in civilized England.

My apologies for the stain on this letter my love: I just had to swat a small Indian boy who brought me a cup of tea without milk! Cheeky fellow!

Those in attendance were the gregarious Mr. Houlihan, the dashing Mr. HMEasy, and the charming Ms. Kaye. It is a most dreadful shame that you hath not befriended these joyous people as of to-day. Mr. Houlihan is a fine young gentleman of medium build, with hair as black as the raven's feathers. His nature is pleasing to all those with the opportunity to be in his company, and is also an accomplished organist. Heavens! The young man commands the complete attention of those in attendance once seated upon his bench, like Xerxes upon his golden throne. And the music! Oh, Elenor! The Music! I wept openly! Apollo beware!
Mr. HMEasy is a fine, upstanding example of British eloquence. He is of solid build with a broad smile, naturally gregarious, and always impeccably dressed. It is my understanding that he would make a fine member of Parliament someday, as his demeanor is most fitting for that pursuit. He seems most passionate when discussing that noble trade. My vote is cast for the Tory Party candidate: Mr. HMS! Theseus himself must have blessed this gentleman.
And how may I describe the charming Ms. Kaye! Twould be a lesson in futility! Sisyphus alone may, perchance, understand. Perhaps the most appropriate description should be "enchanting". Casting a spell over those whom the young lady meets, they are immediately favorably disposed to her company. A modern Psyche!

Methinks that Ms. Kaye might actually be a witch. I shall request an auto-de-fe immediately.

Lovingly Your Humble and Obedient Servant,
Matthew

Monday, January 14, 2008

Sexy M.F.

I am reasonably sure that Prince is not human.

I mean, come on. The man has defined sex for thirty years. Well, maybe not your straight forward, conservative, missionary position meant-for-procreation sex- but he has remained a symbol of sexuality... however you define it. If there are any doubts in your mind, watch this video:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HBaMavpuLj0

You don't see Phil Collins dancing with Beyonce! I don't think anybody wants to see that. "Up next, you may remember him as the balding pasty white dude who brought you such hits as 'I Can't Dance' and 'In The Air Tonight'..."

No, Prince was the guy making songs titled "Head", "Kiss", "I Love U In Me", "Feel You Up", "Horny Toad", and of course, "Pope".

So get out there, throw Purple Rain on your turntable, and get groovy with that special one... even if you met him/her the night before.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Oui Oui, Paris

Well grandma, we ain't in Munich anymore.


Now I'll be the first one to admit that until the day I die, I will always have a soft spot for Munich, Germans, and Beer (that's right: "Beer" deserves a capital letter. I'll write a memo to Noah Webster). But I have to be honest and say that Paris is just mind blowing. I think I wrote about how I had been here for three days once before and absolutely hated it. Yeah, that's because I was cranky from a long plane ride. I love this place!

After an agonizing nine hour train ride (complete with the manicuring woman, the friendly Mr. Rogersesque conductor, and the later entry of two Mexican guys who were nice enough, but I really would have loved to have had the compartment to myself. When I wrote that post about Hall and Oates I was literally singing out loud with my headphones on and bobbing my head side-to-side a la Stevie Wonder. I even took a nice little nap, sprawled out across the bench... until the dudes walked in {for those of you who are not "in the know" about my sleeping habits: I swear I was in Vietnam in a past life because the slightest atmospheric disturbance sends me leaping out of bed with a [David?] Bowie knife in my kung-fu grip, panting with bloodshot eyes looking for the next Colonel Kurtz. Well, perhaps not that dramatic, but I am very sensitive to disturbaces}), I arrived in Gare de l'Est. Two hours of sleep behind me, I set off for adventure.

I met my liason in Montmatre and he escorted me to the safehouse. After a series of keypad entries, deadbolts, and crowds of school children, we arrived at our destination. A small ivy-covered bungalow with a rusting iron gate, located right next to a school on the Rue Lepic. The first thing that struck me upon entering the apartment was the smell: like banana, peanuts, and a healthy dose of ass.

Oh wait. That's me.

And I have to meet Fernanda in two hours (remember her? The Brazilian chick I met in Munich on my concentration camp tour (where I obviously pick up all the ladies)? Yeah, she comes into the story later. Note: I have to remove the link to this blog off of my Facebook page because people I write about can find that link. Not that anything I write here is untrue, it's just that my thoughts are not meant to be shared with everybody! This is for my friends, family, and the occassional random person who stumbles upon it {which is such an odd but enjoyable feeling}. So, Fernanda, if you are reading this... don't hate me, because I fancied you. When I write "hot Brazilian chick" what I really mean is intelligent, beautiful, and insightful girl from Brazil. You rock.) Dammit. Change shirt, lose a layer (it's rather mild here), more deodorant, splash the face... ready to roll.

I head for my next rendezvous: Notre Dame at 9:30. I'm there at 9:27. Brush your shoulders off kid. You're good. 9:45. She's still not here. Not to worry! You're gangsta. Keep it cool. 10:15. I need a vacation. 10:30. I walk towards St. Michel fountain with my head hanging low. Give me a yellow shirt and shave my head and people would think I was Charlie Brown. Good grief.

But at 10:45 I get a call. Eureka! It's her. "The Hills are alive with the Sound of Music!!" Take off that yellow shirt and trade in that frown for a milk maid's dress, Matt! You're the king of the world!

To make a very long story short: We spend the day together exploring the Latin Quarter. It was fantastic. The next day we spend five hours in the Louvre. Breathtaking. My thoughts, in rapid succession: The Mona Lisa is overrated, the Flemish and Dutch Renaissance painters love their portraits of old white men... and the art was wonderful! So many glorius paintings that I don't remember the name of! In all seriousness, it was great. I loved it. I also loved the experience of just plain being there. The creaking wooden floors, the smells, the sophisticated silence, except when I had to necessarily break out into song and dance: a common occurance. Actually, being in the museum made me think of John Cage, of all people. I remember Pity telling me about that famous performance 4'33", where Cage played nothing so that people had to listen to what was happening around them; they had to appreciate the atmosphere of concerts: coughing, shuffling, ear-ringing, etc. That's what I liked the most about the Louvre.
We met up later that night (after I visited Houli in his church tower. Literally, this mo-fo lives on top of Paris. But if anybody deserves it... M. Houlihan does), had some drinks which I could not afford (I am broke right now, but that's another story), chatted, and had a great time. I won't go into details, but just know that I walked her to her door and we said our goodbyes as she had a plane to catch in a few hours. In the end, it was wonderful to explore Paris for two days with such nice company.

But now it's down to business. I have to start writing a script for a new tour I am designing. I'll keep you posted (that could be perceived as a bad "blog joke", but I didn't mean it that way. Sorry)

Cheers,
Matt

Friday, January 11, 2008

The Dents

Let's get drunk and write a blog post. Sure! So I made it to Paris and I am here in one piece. However, Houli and HMS insisted that we have a few bottles of wine and since I lack a spine I assented. So, they just went to grab another bottle and I am going to sneak a post in here. All I can say is that the good ol' days were great. Accidentals and college. Dude, that was the stuff. I was on top of the world. What could compare? I was surrounded by passionate, dedicated people who shared a common interest: harmony. Harmony of voices, but also harmony of experience. We shared it all together and made music. Awesome.

Deep Thoughts

I had been feeling a little depressed recently. Nothing but your standard “away from home” and work related stress stuff (today was killer. I messed up while trying to mail something to London and got ripped a new one for it. I guess I deserved it. But dude, this job is supposed to be easy! I am a freakin tour guide! Well, not anymore. With greater power comes greater responsibility… and the greater possibility of failure! I thought about if accepting this promotion was a good idea, but after reflection, I think it was. With any job, the lowest rung of the ladder is generally the easiest. So why would I want to remain stagnant? Advance! Succeed! Onward! And the worst that could happen is that I discover I am not cut out for management, in which case I become a tour guide again. No tears shalt be spilt.)

Anyway, it gave me a chance to reflect upon an unforeseen consequence of living alone in a foreign country. Though I have many friends here and I meet new interesting people every day, for the most part it is just me walking the streets with only my thoughts. The voice in my head is really the only thing I can listen to because I can’t understand anybody around me because they are not speaking English! It’s an odd thing. It’s as if my thoughts are in solitary confinement. The only real outlet for them is this blog! I guess everybody could feel this way, but I feel that it is more pronounced when a language barrier exists as the ability to listen and comprehend what others around you are saying is a distraction. Eavesdropping is natural and a way to occupy your brain without really thinking. You can commiserate, compare, contrast, and consider. Unfortunately I cannot do this. I might as well be surrounded by a horde of drunken Mongolian folk poets. Nothing is coming through the static. Hence, it’s just me and my thoughts keeping each other company (and I maintain that the two are completely separate entities. Dude, I can think of some pretty sick shit. I won’t get into it, but I certainly don’t have complete control over the things that I think about).

I feel like I can now understand how a person put in solitary confinement in prison could go insane. Thankfully I see the sunlight and I have friends to spend time with. If I lacked those simple things… I would lose it. Guaranteed.
That gets me to thinking: (Why) does our brain have a mental self-destruct? Left completely alone, will a thinking mind consume itself and lapse into dementia? Huh. Does it need stimuli in order to function properly, and if those stimuli don’t exist, will the solitary mind cease to function? I think so. I am sure there has been a study on this.

I am on the train right now from Munich to Paris. Luckily I am alone in my compartment. Hahaha, I say that after writing the following paragraphs… but heck, I’d rather be alone that with some crazy random person. There was a woman here before but I don’t think she had a ticket (the conductor and her had a prolonged conversation) so she was kicked off. I was thankful, as when I entered into the compartment I intruded on her fingernail painting session. Are you kidding me? If I lit a match when I walked inside you would be reading about me in the paper. The fumes were unbearable. Well she’s gone now, thankfully. Now it’s just me, my laptop, and the smooth tunes of Hall & Oates on my headphones. No joke, these guys are geniuses. Luckily I was blessed with the opportunity to see these modern Michelangelos in concert with Dan and some friends. After getting appropriately plastered in the Jones Beach parking lot, we proceeded inside, only to remember that Todd Rundgren was opening for them. Nobody knew who the hell he was… except me. I shouted at the top of my lungs “IT WOULDN’T HAVE MADE ANY DIFFERENCE!!” and “HELLO IT’S ME!” He played both. Awesome. Then the Dynamic Duo came out. They were awesome. For an encore, our group of polite gents requested that they play “FUCKING RICH GIRL!” They did. I cried with delight.

My battery is running out. Paris in 7 hours. Here I come.
-Matt

Thursday, January 10, 2008

So Much Time, So Little To Do

My mind is awash in a sea of emotions. I don't know what to think! It's all happening so fast.

I have to catch a train to Paris in seven hours, but before that I have so many last minute things to take care of in Munich. But to top it off, I am dreading my train ride because I have done this before. The train from Munich to Paris is torturous. I sit in a small cabin with two benches facing each other, three people to a bench. It's uncomfortably close, the seats don't recline, and I over-heat easily. By the time I arrive in Paris (6:53 in the morning) I am going to be one grumpy mo-fo.

Deep breaths. In... and out...

That's better. Often I get that feeling like there are so many things to do that I can't even decide where to start. I just need to breathe.

Well, writing in my blog is not the most productive of activities I could be doing right now. I need to 1. Track down a rogue package that is currently somewhere in Europe, 2. Send numerous bills to Berlin, 3. Finish packing, 4. Put credit on to my cell phone, 5. Stop sweating, 6. Make it to a meeting at 2:30, 7. Make my train, 8. Pee like a race horse, 9. Meet with hot Brazilian chick in Paris, 10. Get my game face on.

Alright, I need to stop typing. I might not be able to post for the next few days, so until that time: be good! my most beloved reader.

Adieu, Tschuss, Cheers,
Matt

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Multiplicity

After reflecting on my last blog post where I reflected upon my writing from the previous night, I realized, after reflection, that I might have a problem: multiple personalities. My worries were only further justified on my walk home today from the subway station.

As I was walking along, perusing antique book shops, fine tobacconists (looking at some of the packaging on these designer “cigarillos” made me question whether my decision to abstain from The Leaf was wise) and sipping on my multivitamin juice I thought about the different manifestations of Matt and the forms they take. To my surprise, this short five minute walk demonstrated many of them. Here were some of my thoughts:

"I hate escalators. I can never just step on to one and enjoy the ride like so many other people. I have to wait and time my entry just right so that I don’t lose my balance. And the dismount? Heavens no! I can’t get it right. I look like a freakin poindexter, analyzing the precise moment that would ensure a safe landing. Otherwise, I am that guy who trips, though I more often trip going up stairs then down. I actually just tripped going up the escalator the other day in the city center. There is no graceful way to pull it off. I have tried the “Nothing to see here people” approach and just get back up and ascend faster. Failure. I feel fake. Yet, I have also tried the “Silly me!” approach where I take my time getting back up, laugh out loud to myself (a little forced), and look around for recognition. Those around me don’t appreciate the humor."

"I freakin love cute dogs. Not the “toy” ones that can sleep soundly inside a crushed thimble. That’s just unnatural. No, I like medium dogs; the ones that reach up to my knee, for example. Big ones scare me and drool. Fuck drool. Medium sized dogs rock."

"Dude, that guy is so ugly."

"I hope Natalie wants to go out tonight. I could use a drink, and I need to get my game on with some ladies."

And without further delay, I present to you my findings. I have spent hours digging through the cavernous depths of my soul in search of these incarnations, and I hope you can look at them and remember where you were when you first met them. You may laugh, you may cry, but in the end, they are all just figments of my imagination:

Name: Matt the Romantic
Latin name: Mattisimus bogartamus
Distinguishing characteristics: Gaze affixed skyward. Charming smile with possible dimples showing. Collared shirt. Blazer. Willingness to spend large sums of money.
Motto: “I think I’m in the mood for a Syrah. How about you?”
Paraphernalia: Wine glasses. Tea bags. Candles. Frank Sinatra records.
Best known location: That trendy, low-lit wine bar downtown.

Name: Matt the Ham
Latin name: Mattisimo dramaticus
Distinguishing characteristics: Wild gesticulations. Variations in pitch and volume of voice. Eyes wide open. Booty shaking. Attention seeking. Leaping on furniture.
Motto: “I look good. I mean really good. Hey everyone, come see how good I look!”
Paraphernalia: Fake microphones. Guitar. Bottle or can of beer. Costumes.
Best known location: Any party with more than 10 people but less than 30. Trinity College.

Name: Matt the Recluse
Latin name: Mattima humanophobias
Distinguishing characteristics: None known. Not seen in public. Rumored to be napping.
Motto: “Nahh… maybe I’ll come out tonight.”
Paraphernalia: Books, laptops, bed, headphones.
Best known location: Bed. Behind closed doors. Shower.

Name: Matt the Drunk
Latin name: I’m Puerto Rican, not Latin!
Distinguishing characteristics: Eyes crossed. Hiccups. Slurred speech. Unsteady gait. Hitting on most women within 15 meters.
Motto: “Dude, where are all the chicks?”
Paraphernalia: Alcoholic drinks.
Best known location: Wherever the party’s at!

Name: Matt the Near-Homo
Latin name: Mattiboy houliopus
Distinguishing characteristics: Discussions on fashion and Project Runway. Dancing. Singing. Musical theater. Being buddy-buddy with the real gay guys.
Motto: “Houli once said I was 3/5 gay, except that the other 2/5 is that I like girls.”
Paraphernalia: Tight jeans. Skinny black tie. Perfectly groomed facial hair.
Best known location: Indie clubs.

Name: Matt the Reed
Latin name: Matthew Richard Reed
Distinguishing characteristics: Talking to himself. Mumbling. Funny dancing/singing. Playing Halo. Writing blogs. Reading history books. Drinking cappuccinos. Traveling. Giving tours.
Motto: “Hey everybody welcome to Munich! My name is Matt....”
Paraphernalia: Black man-bag. Passport. Pens. Notepads. My green jacket.
Best known location: The streets of Munich/Paris


I'm sure there are others, but just reading these is scaring me.
-Matt

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Turn the Page

I was sitting in my room listening to some good ol’ feel good tunes last night when Bob Seager came up on my playlist. It was a favorite of mine: “Night Moves”. Listening to the song made me reflect, oddly enough, on American culture. Man, nothing is quite like young teenagers in love in the United States. There is something special about it.

This song conjures images in my head of driving around in the guy’s beloved vehicle with his sweetheart sitting in the passenger seat, with autumn closing in. The stars are out… at least those visible behind the street lights. Outside the weather is chilly, and chilly enough to need a warming arm around the shoulder or a snuggle in the jacket. Scenes that flash through my mind include beaches, highways, and parking lots. To me, they’re always moving. Always exploring. Teenage love involves a fair amount of exploring.

Perhaps I am grafting my own memories on to the song. I am fortunate to have had a nice high school sweetheart and pleasant memories associated with her. It’s funny looking back at how young and truly na├»ve I (we) were… but it’s nice. We are greatly different people today, but that shared experience shall always be there. A nice thought, if you ask me. It was truly the only time in my life that I was completely ignorant of “love” and what to expect. We were just being honest and open. From then on, there are always expectations and standards to live up to. I don’t think that purity can ever be found again. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but it’s just an interesting thought.

[I wrote this last night after feeling somewhat sentimental. Re-reading it now (it's 2:00 in the afternoon) and after spending the entire day in the Foreigner's Office trying to get a visa... the only thing I can say is "Matt. Grow a pair."]

Cheers,
Matt

Monday, January 7, 2008

Today I booked my train ride to Paris. Arriving at 6:53 Friday morning, I will be met by a collegue who will escort me to the apartment waiting for me in the famed Montmatre district with a beautiful view of Sacre Coure.

Really?

Hell yeah. I'll let you know what happens. Until that time, it's back to work.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Jukebox Hero

I have never really met or seen a celebrity in real life. Until now. I think. I am fairly certain that a few days ago I met a celebrity. I think.

It was on my Dachau tour (which have since ceased and the sky is blue once again). I had an English couple on the tour who were very friendly and chatty. The guy was very English, enough so that I had trouble understanding him. Anywho, we finish the tour and are on the train ride back to Munich. He had some intelligent things to say on the tour, so I decided to grace them with my presence (how kind of me) for the duration of the ride. We got down to talking about why I am here, how long I intend to stay... blah blah. What about him? "I'm a musician." Now I fancy myself somewhat-kinda-understanding of music and the whole "musician" process, so I prodded a little further. "What kind of music?" "Ohh you know, rock."

Hmmm. He has no idea that I also fancy myself a bit of a ROCK GOD. Well, not really (maybe a Rock sub-Deity), but I know some pretty obscure old stuff. Regardless, I must dig deeper...

"Cool. Where did you play?"
"Oh, we opened for the Who in Munich once, but really all over the place."

what. Did you just say you opened for the Who? Ok, this dude has to be slightly famous. Now to find out who he is:

"Would I know any of your stuff?"
"Nahh, mumblemumblemumble"
"Haha, give it a shot. I know some pretty obscure stuff."
"Nahh, don't worry about it. Nevermind."

Either this dude sucks, or he is famous. I ask his name. "Oh me? James mumblemumble". That's it. That's all I got. His name is James, and he purposely didn't audibly say his last name, as he knew I might know him or I might look him up.

Taking all these factors into consideration:
1. He works in the studio now.
2. His band opened for the Who once.
3. He has met Jimmy Page on many occasions.
4. He didn't want to tell me his name.
5. He didn't want to tell me any songs his band played.

I have come up with the following answer:
He was a one-hit wonder.

How freakin cool is that! I didn't say this to him, but in my mind, while talking to him, I was screaming! This dude might be from Stealers Wheels! The Outfield! JOHN CAFFERTY AND THE FUCKING BEAVER BROWN BAND! (wait, his name is James...)

My god. He could be the dude from A-ha. My head is spinning.
-Matt

Thursday, January 3, 2008

And in their pursuit of excellence, the San Francisco Police Department, in their investigation of the mentally disturbed tiger, have taken the following actions:

"Police are examining a large rock, a tree branch and other items, Singer said."


Whew,
Matt

A Drunk and a Slam Dunk

Giving tours of a concentration camp every single day for nearly two weeks became quite taxing. Depression began to creep into my heart and consume my very being. The nights were darker, the wind colder. Melancholy streets awash with human tears. Poe would feel right at home.

That is until two days ago. It started off as any common tour. A multi-national group of about twenty joined me on my daily exodus to the depths of human evils. Luckily, there was one gentleman who seemed to lighten the mood. He was an American, fifty six years of age, from South Carolina, and a retired professor of accounting. Delightful chap. Asking perhaps too many questions, he was “that guy” in the group. The others stared at him and sort of rolled their eyes, giving me the “I feel your pain” look. But no matter. I have had people like this on my tours before. Simply don’t look them directly in the eyes when addressing the group and try to keep your pace vigorous, leaving as little time in between stops as possible. However, my efforts were thwarted on multiple occasions by this man, as he would sort of waddle up to me and slap me on the back, and offer a few charming Southern phrases. One queer quirk of his was his often embarrassing tendency to chuckle at inappropriate times. I mentioned that the SS systematically and randomly executed Soviet villagers in 1941… and he laughed! Perhaps it is just a nervous tendency of his. Nothing to worry about, I imagine.

We continue the tour while he continues in his rather curious manner until we pause for a bathroom break. He went inside first. For unknown reasons I was cautious to follow him. I needed to tinkle, but something was telling me to desist. Ignoring these inner voices, I entered the facilities. Big mistake. I finished doing my business (it was one of those urinals that scares the crap out of me due to its flushing power), and went to the sink. There was the guy washing his hands and filling his water bottle from another bottle that he had sipped copious amounts of liquid from during most of the tour.

“BLAHAALALHAGAZZO?” he muttered with the bottle cap in his mouth.
“What?” replied I, with a furrowed brow.
Removing the cap from betwixt his lips, “You like Ouzo Matt?”
“What the heck is that?” laughed the boy.
“It’s Greek. Here, try it” sayeth he, as he drizzles a small amount into the bottle cap.

That’s when I suddenly remembered the name “Ouzo”. At approximately the same moment I took the cap in my hands and threw it back like a rock star.

Oh crap. I’m a friggin idiot. It’s liquor! Here I am drinking in the bathroom with a crazy old man... while giving a tour of a concentration camp! The shock of my actions smacks me like a morning hangover. Wait a sec… that is why he’s been so odd on the tour…he’s FREAKIN DRUNK. This dude has been drinking booze since the start and he is totally drunk at this point. I mean, stumbling drunk. Stammering drunk. Slobbering drunk. And here I am, drinking with him! I don't know what came over me. I didn't even think, "Hey, when crazy old man offers mystery liquid, it's best to politely refuse." No, I thought, "Liquid? LET'S DO THIS!"

For the duration of the tour, I could not rid myself of the taste of licorice mixed with the sour sensation of shame.


IN OTHER NEWS:
I am currently watching “My Fair Lady” while writing this. I must say… overrated movie. The acting sucks, it's way too long, and it is obvious that Audrey Hepburn is not singing most of the songs. She is beautiful though. Classicly beautiful. I remember that I had a conversation with my dad before I left, saying that I think that certain woman will always be viewed as highly attractive, regardless of current fashions and styles. Except if they are from the 80's. Cindy Lauper and Tiffany won't make the list.

Speaking of beautiful:
The night after my Dachau tour, I met up with a hot Brazilian chick (and her very nice friend who I was not really interested in... in that way). She had been on my tour the previous day and there was sort of an instant connection. She liked my beard. Her words, not mine. I like where this is going. Also, she's a huge fan of The Police and has seen U2 and the Stones in concert. Attraction? Obvious. We plan to meet at the Indie club at 10:15. An hour before that, I am dancing around my place trying to decide what to wear. I settle on the simple black collared shirt. Classy, sophisticated, not too dressy, but not to shabby. I show up. Alone. Nobody is there. I wait fifteen minutes. Nothing. Shit. Screw you guys, I’m going home.

I show up for my tour the next day at 11am… and there she is. Alone. Hell yeah. She walks up to me, grabs my scarf, re-ties it (tight), pulls me in and says “I am so sorry, I need to make this up to you. I want to see you tonight.” Suddenly and without warning, my balls re-appeared (see previous blog posts).

We meet up that night at 7, as she has a night train. After an exchange of salutations, I stop her and say “First thing first: what’s your name?” She says “It doesn’t matter," takes my hand and we start walking. That was friggin hot. It ends up her name is Fernanda (any Trinity male will know why I kind of chuckled when she said that). We go to a hip, sweaty bar and grab a drink. Once inside, she strips her jacket and sweater off. Holy crap. This just got a whole lot more interesting.

We chat... we break the touch barrier. Nothing happens. She has to catch a train that night (fuck), so we leave the bar. On our way to the hostel where her bags are located, we realize that the train leaves five minutes ago, so we run to the hostel, grab the bag, run to the subway, run to the train station, run to the track… and there is her train, waiting for her. Dammit. I thought the Germans were supposed to be punctual... At the platform, we part ways, never to see each other again.

She was my kind of woman: Exotic. Witty. Intelligent. Dark. She had attitude. She got moxy. She re-affirmed my belief that I will eventually find "that one." It wasn't her, but dammit, it's gonna be somebody just like her. I need to take a cold shower.

Happy New Year (Neus Jahr, or really "Silvester" in Germany) and Cheers,
Matt