Saturday, December 29, 2001

Letter to My Friend Colin:

Survived (I seeem to be using this word more and more frequently...) an extremely formal and conservative Christmas in the village of Piaseczno--where I lived 10 years ago the first time I came to Poland. The men--sons of my host family and basically my age--wore suits with ties, and I, the slob from the Land o' Plenty, was left basically feeling inadequate in my turtle neck and blue jeans. I forgot how strange the world is at times, being constantly lulled to believe that I belong in whichever geographic space I "find" myself (or lose myself). Proud to have understood the huge passage of Jesus' birth from The Gospel of Luke in Polish. Then they proceeded to make me feel more "at home" by telling me what a strange bird I was for not eating fish: Christmas eve is a fasting day, broken by the huge--though "meatless" (fish ain't a meat! afterall)--Christmas meal which starts when the first stars in the sky are visible (i.e., around 16:30 here). Afterwards we ended up playing Milionerzy (or Who Wants to be a Millionaire?), the hugely popular game show both here and in the U.S., for several hours. My team, of course, won; that is, after the obscure words ("enamel," e.g.) were translated/explained to me.

Christmas morning we began breakfast around 10:30. I was totally pissed (don't you love how English my English has become!) by 11:00 after three huge shots of vodka. After eating I had to take a nap. And I was still loopy when I went outside with the kids to build snowpeople and have a snowball war. The 20- and 30-year-olds beat the asses of the under-11 team!

Made it back to Warsaw later that afternoon. Since then I've been watching films (Amelia finally, The Nine Lives of Tomas Katz, and the incredibly insipid and vacucous The Diary of Bridget Jones) and trying not to wallow too much in my self-proclaimed angst and ennui. Everyone in this city is implicated in my depression for creating such a place where love cannot exist. (Ah! I wax poetic!) I'm quite ready to petition for designating "sexlessness" as a mental disorder. I can't even face myself in the mirror, knowing what a wretched and loveless monster I've become.

Friday, December 7, 2001

At a loss as to what to write after ignoring my online writing responsibilities for so long. I have my health. And the people who make me happy here in Warsaw. My research, I feel (and fear), remains a bit too unfocused for me to feel comfortable being in this program, but I know I won't get to do what I'd like to do until I speak this language considerably better than I do now.

Stephen will be here in a couple of weeks. We'll travel around Poland, though we haven't yet decided on a place for New Year's. We're both thinking someplace quiet and uncrowded. Neither of us wants to relive the frustration of New Year's in Prague six years ago.

Much of my time recently has been spent considering the various options for next year and beyond. The scary beast (THE FUTURE) has raised its head on several occasions, demanding I engage it on every level imaginable: personal, academic, financial, professional, romantic.

Tuesday, October 16, 2001

Greetings from a chilly, autumnal Warsaw, where I've been living since the end of September. I feel like I haven't accomplished a single thing since purchasing my ticket to this side of the planet, not for lack of trying. The bureacracy and insanity of this life here remains insurmountable; I fear I may end up at the end of nine months with nothing to show for my anguished attempts to do something meaningful and important.

I feel fairly safe here, though I'm a bit more cautious than usual. The nightmares I had nightly the first few weeks made me somewhat paranoid: I'd search behind the doors and in the closets every time I'd return to my home. Feeling more like a target than I typically already do has made me even more opinionated about this war against terrorism. The sudden shift from my leftist pacifism to where I currently stand has left me quite disoriented. I find myself trying to place all my previously held beliefs into some kind of meaningful system that fulfills the narrative arc we all seek in our lives, knowing full well that random events will continue to dominate the existence we find ourselves in on this planet. I'm not sure I'd want it any other way.

Tuesday, September 4, 2001

Stephen and I watched Wim Wenders' Until the End of the World over the weekend: it's my favorite film, and I've seen it about ten times already even though I don't remember when I first saw it. I always like to see it again before or during my "in flight" times.

Today I was a zombie: I only slept about thirty mintues last night, and I didn't sleep again until after 8:00 this morning. I've been working on my site (mostly transferring files from my previous site), doing laundry, shredding papers, making phone calls to try to arrange my various goodbyes. Thinking I'll have a farewell brunch Saturday with my inner circle. Please do stop by ... and bring something either orange or chocolate brown....

Thursday, August 23, 2001

With this entry, you'll notice that I've returned to the original style of also using the time when I begin writing. I had stopped documenting the times when I was actually employed--already so long ago--so as not to have proof that I was working on my web site when I should've been working for The Man. Well, fuck The Man! and his mind-numbing jobs!

This morning was spent running errands around Dallas: I bought my ticket to Warsaw; mailed off my visa application; and got my third and final Hepatitis B vaccination shot. It was nice to actually get some things accomplished and finalized since I leave in less than three weeks.

Saw David Byrne in concert several days ago. It was incredible: he performed several of my favorite songs from his solo career, collaborations, and from his days with Talking Heads. He's one of my all-time favorite singers and certainly one of the most creative people in America. For the past year I've had the fantasy of writing an opera to be sung by him and Bjork, perhaps with Laurie Anderson and Suzanne Vega in the chorus!

Leaving for New Orleans Saturday afternoon with Stephen and Kennan. There's a mandatory conference about hurricanes at the Pat O'Brien Conference Center. Wish I didn't have to go, but alas....

I'm so looking forward to leaving this cyberpit I've allowed myself to fall into. Too many delinquents, most of them juvenile, online. It amazes me how one teenager can be totally in touch with reality and offer insight and depth of emotion while another can only talk about his dick! I just cannot relate. (But I've already decided that in my next incarnation I shall be a counselor for troubled teens....)

Saturday, August 11, 2001

    A month in Prague was a good way to spend my summer vacation, though I'm still not certain it was the best way to spend my scarce monetary resources. I do think I got quite a bit out of the lectures: I didn't ever really understand the American political system as well as I do now, and I actually am open to the idea of studying economic theory like I've never been before. Happy to have met several interesting people, paticularly the ones who were not a part of the Institute at Charles University. Danced a lot, drank in moderation (a first!), and didn't smoke one cigarette--a drastic change from the last time I was in Europe.
    I'll be busy for the next several weeks preparing for my move to Warsaw: taking the GRE once again, writing, applying for a visa, traveling to New Orleans for a weekend, researching Ph.D. programs in international relations for autumn 2002, etc. Currently I'm looking forward to getting over this jet lag and nausea.

Monday, May 28, 2001

    Two years ago I began this site as an online journal, a record of my inner and outer adventures around the world. Several changes later, it has evolved into this site. I have to admit I'm rather proud of my little corner of the web. I certainly haven't maintained it or kept it updated as I would've wished: sometimes life (or the lack thereof) simply prevented me from recording it.
    Now that I've been stationary for about a year, it's hard to believe that I'll soon enough be on the road again. Soon to Prague, and then in September I move to Warsaw for a year. Who knows what paths I'll be down this next year. Or who I'll end up being when it's all said and done. As always, I'm looking forward to the journey.

    Today was Memorial Day. I went to the graveyard with Stephen and Shayne. We drank beer, ate pretzels and communed with the dead--my dead: the uncle I never knew who bore my name for 3 days shy of 20 years until he was killed in Viet Nam, my grandparents who took really good care of me and made me feel special, my great-grandmother who had giant sticks of peppermint to hand out to us kids when we'd visit her in the nursing home. It seems weird to me how permanent and placed these people are under the earth. They helped make me who I am and who I will be. And that graveyard is the closest to a childhood home I have on this planet. I'm glad I went today, not knowing when if ever I'll visit again.

Friday, March 23, 2001

    It's been such a long time since I took the time to write on my online journal. Apologies to all who have patiently waited and secretly hoped for some word(s) from me.
    Spent my early spring break in Montreal with my pal Salam. We really had a good time getting to know each other face-to-face and walking all over the city. The coffee shops were amazing: only three Starbucks--the rest were small, private cafes that served good coffee and provided an atmosphere conducive to conversation and writing. To wade through knee-high snow was an experience that I miss from my time in Europe.

    Six more weeks of class remain until the summer terms begin. I'm almost finished, I have to keep reminding myself, with this graduate certificate in geographic information systems (GIS). I plan to complete this certificate in August and then search for a professional position abroad.