Last night (in Paris)

I sit here on the blue (blue!) couch in Katie’s living room, PJ Harvey on the Akai integrated 3-disc stereo. I realize that this is it, the last night of my vacation. What a relief.

That’s not to say I haven’t enjoyed it. That wasn’t really the point, anyway I don’t think. Hmm, I’ll have to get back to that one.

But I am eager to return to Berkeley. I left many open questions on departure and I’m anxious to resolve them. eg. where am I going to live? will it be solo or in a big organic-veggy commune?

I visited the Catacombs today. Disturbingly undisturbing. Miles of piles of bones and no affect. There are some nice poems, but beyond that there is no humanity, just complicated arrangements of calcium.

Then I planned to head to Père Lachaise cemetary, the one where Morrison’s buried. I was going to finally crack open a book I bought in Hamburg. On my walk to the metro, I saw that Confessions d’un homme dangereux was playing in a couple minutes… since it was the last jour du Fête du Ciné and I saw Swimming Pool (great) on Sunday, I could see any movie for e1.50. I really needed to go the bathroom too and it was almost as cheap as the public toilets. En plus, I got to read a great political thesis on the bathroom wall (which would have been washed away by the autosanitization in the public toilet). To wit: “George W. Bush = CIA = Serial Killers. Viva l’Irak. Vive l’Yugoslavie. Vive l’Afghanistan.” To which someone added the insight: “Oui, c’est vrai.”

Man, I’m really sick of European moral self-righteousness. It’s not shared by all, but when it does come out I just find it pathetic. I’ve been meaning for a while to write about my trip, but I had trouble discerning what part of my travel experience was interesting to anyone else. I resolved to write a sort of Guide for Unapologetic Americans in Europe, loosely instructional based on what I’ve learned to interact, but with a focus on how I came to my views. Something something….

This trip isn’t anything like the last time I was in Europe. Before was fresh and had hardly any expectations. I didn’t have the basis for any. It was exciting. And I was learning to see myself in new ways because I was meeting completely new people all the time, each of whom sees you differently and refreshes your own perspective.

That’s happened a bit, like the night I ended up at a hostel in Cologne because I missed my train because someone was being “helpful”… more on that later maybe. My point right now is that this experience has been very different. I’ve tried to understand it and I can think of several reasons:

last time:
– I knew nearly nothing before I came to Europe last time
– I knew no one
– I had a Let’s Go book and stuck to the tourist stuff
– I was eager to escape life in Berkeley

this time:
– I came with a bunch of expectations and what exactly I’d be doing and how stimulating it would be
– I visited people I already knew; very rewarding but mostly precludes the “new perspective” thing
– I figured myself an old hat and didn’t bother with any tourist stuff; going out with the locals is great for getting a real intuition of the culture, but it’s definitely not as exciting (and I may expound on why but I won’t right now)
– I left things hanging in Berkeley that I wanted to get back to

That’s enough for this entry, I suppose. Next, I’m thinking of writing up some key experiences, divided into 1) things I expected and 2) things I didn’t expect. I may separate (2) into a) good things and b) bad things, but that’s kind of silly given the ying and yang.

Whatever I write next, it will not likely be soon. 18 hours of travel tomorrow, arriving in Berkeley around 8pm. Then I’ll probably crash, go to work in the morning… any moments not claimed by work or reaclimation will be given up to apartment finding. Oh yeah, if you know of any good vacancies in Berkeley, please let me know.


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