Tag Archives: choice

selections from Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

“She’ll come back and be a serious Americanah like Bisi,” Ranyinudo said.

They roared with laughter, at that word “Americanah,” wreathed in glee, the fourth syllable extended, and at the thought of Bisi, a girl in the form below them, who had come back from a short trip to America with odd affectations, pretending she no longer understood Yoruba, adding a slurred r to every English word she spoke. (78) Continue reading

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morning BART poetry

Natalie was seated to my right. inspired, i whipped out my phone and penned this in one or two stops. when i handed it to Natalie, she read it, smiled wide, and asked, “did you just write that?” “yup.” Continue reading

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selections from Electra and other plays by Sophocles

And I am as you see me now. Continue reading

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half pipe

this is the story of why there’s a fucking foot-and-a-half long half pipe of bamboo sitting on the mirror in my bathroom. Continue reading

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Budapest: decadent treat [archive]

~~~~~ Day One ~~~~~

what a great movie to treat myself to before going on a trip. after the movie ended around 3am, i walked to the syntagma square bus stop, listening to math rock, and dreaming of decadence. “decadence” (excessive self-indulgence) and “treat” (special pleasure or delight) pretty much ended up defining the weekend.

i dozed the whole bus ride, loved the lack of security line (i didn’t have to take off my shoes AND they didn’t hassle me about my scissors/lighter), dozed at the gate, and passed out like a rock on the short plane ride. arrived at budapest ferihegy international airport much too early. i had about six hours to kill until Meryl and company came in. i quickly figured out that i needed to take the 300E bus to get to the metro, and the metro would take me into the heart of the city. i had no idea where i was going, where my hostel was, anything (i did know where Meryl was coming in), so i kind of just exited at the metro stop in the middle of the map and hoped for the best.

outside i found myself in cold, drizzly, grey, wet, epic, shuddering, shouldering, quiet, busy Budapest. like i said, i had no idea where i got off or what surrounded me, so i just started walking. in what direction? whichever! that one looks good, look at this street, is that a church?, whoa cool architecture, sweet random art:

getting cold, i started keeping an eye out for a cafe and finally discovered a weirdly located but excellent one with wifi. entering i found out i was alone with three employees and practiced my Hungarian by shyly pointing at the things i wanted. “uh…. cappucino? …and….. crossaint? yeah, and, uh….. cigarettes? which? uh…” *shrug* definitely a mistake. Elise’s boy Philip later told me that i got the lightest of the light. know what you want in this world or you’ll be given shit.

thankfully, i didn’t realize the cafe had wifi until after reading a good chapter from Kazantsakis while sipping on my coffee and nibbling at my pastry. after finishing the chapter, i set my book down to wonder about the wifi situation, looked up, and saw right in front of me the wifi logo on the window. so i killed some time on my iphone and tried to map some sort of slow journey towards Meryl’s bus station (this mapping failed). the drizzle fizzled a little so i continued my wanderings… and i found a humongous church!

wandering, not knowing, wandering, knowing i’d need some sort of direction eventually, i stopped in a bookstore for a map. it proved a helpful companion for the weekend. after the bookstore i backtracked a bit to a mini-mart i saw with what looked like fresh bread. i bought myself a fat loaf and proceeded to munch as i continued my walk. (weirdly enough, this area with the bookstore and cafe ended up being a couple blocks away from the place Meryl booked for us, even though i didn’t know this then.)

equipped with map, i developed the concept of choice, deciding to visit a giant cemetery marked with a green splotch on the map. about a half hour and a few creepy tunnels later (the creepy tunnels like the one above were sometimes the only way to get across giant streets/intersections, sometimes they were actually massive centers under the intersection with various kiosks and entrances to the metro system), the sun broke out of the clouds and i found the cemetery!

did i mention how cold it was that morning? the entire cemetery was prettily strewn here and there with a couple inches of snow. it totally added to the epic graves/monuments. the first one that wowed me:

this cemetery actually had long, wide streets where cars could drive comfortably around blocks with sometimes massive structures housing tons of gravestones. i thought this monument looked particularly sci-fi:

epic grave:

suddenly i realized that my Greek phone (which i figured would accurately adjust time after discovering service abroad) displayed an hour later time than did my iphone (that i had set to Budapest time awhile ago). assuming that the other phone was correct, i kind of panicked thinking i’d be late to meet Meryl, so i started tramping towards the opposite end of the cemetery from where i came in, assuming that the idea of multiple entrances wasn’t entirely farfetched. well, i found an exit, but the gate was locked. i spent a few moments contemplating jumping the wall, until a giant truck (like a dump truck) started bellowing down the lane. i waved at the man driving and he stopped. i (knowing the answer already) asked him if he could unlock the gate. of course not. i then made a few basic gestures, conveying that i wanted him to drive me to the front. he accepted. i walked around the front of the truck, climbed the three steps up and sat for the short ride. he clearly knew only a few drops of English because our only conversation was: “student?” “yes!” and then when i got out at the front, “thank you! thank you! :) :)” i was very happy. Hungarian people are nice.

i booked it to the bus station to meet Meryl and only when i pretty much got there already (seeing a clock on the way) did i realize that my iphone had the correct time all along. so i was a little early. who can be bored when music is available?

a few girls started gathering, apparently for a bus ride to Krakow, while i sat against a wall, smoking, and listening to Danger Mouse do his thing. i hadn’t listened to it in a long while, and after recently getting a higher bitrate version than the one i had, i thought it a good time to listen. a half hour before i expect to see the girl, i bend down to my backpack to tear myself a giant piece of bread from the loaf i bought earlier, while “I GOT 99 PROBLEMS BUT A BITCH AIN’T ONE IF YOU’RE HAVING GIRL PROBLEMS I FEEL BAD FOR YOU SON I GOT 99 PROBLEMS BUT A BITCH AIN’T ONE HIT ME” blasts into my ears. i grab the bread and someone appears in front of me, and i momentarily assume it’s some weird Hungarian girl, until i look up and see this enigmatic creature standing before me:

jesus christ buddha the virgin mary the saints the souls the spires their architects their sons their long hair bleeding tequila shot in the arm full of glory heaven mercy sacrificed sheep crying to the bath with a satchel of bread and wine and nothing but the light of a million singing choruses to calm. kind of gives you an impression of how it feels to look into the eyes of the sea. an enigma, Conrad says.

we found our way down to the metro, squeezing hands, and rode back downtown to find our hostel. Meryl’s loca. she booked through this place called boomerang hostel, but she didn’t get one of the rooms there. she got an actual apartment about a five minute walk away. the apartment seriously beats my apartment here in Athens. it had a huge bedroom with two big beds, a coffeetable, a stand with a tv (we didn’t realize that we had a tv until a day or two later, and even then we of course didn’t turn it on once). we also had a kitchen, dining room, and bathroom, all very nice. the front door opened to a cute little courtyard that led to the front of the building.

after satisfying ourselves with a trilogy of decadence, we made our way to the other hostel where all our friends had the weekend booked. i saw Lauren! and Elise! and Dan! so nice to see old friends. we had a little drink, a little smoke together, and made out for dinner. the place ended up being a little more than i wanted to pay but the food stunned. my main dish was a beef stew with a side of pasta with ewe cheese melted on top. fantastic. i split the following dessert with Meryl: egg white islands floating in a vanilla sea. it sounds ridiculous, it looked ridiculous, and it tasted a little ridiculous, but absolutely delicious. such a treat.

we checked out the gorgeous parliament building after dinner. click that link if you want legitimately amazing photos view of this grandiose building. the detail could never be captured on my silly iphone, especially at night:

i love the Danube. again, click the link for serious photos (and for knowledge!!!), but here’s my lousy one:

from the article: “Known to history as one of the long-standing frontiers of the Roman Empire, the river flows through or forms a part of the borders of ten countries: Germany (7.5%), Austria (10.3%), Slovakia (5.8%), Hungary (11.7%), Croatia (4.5%), Serbia (10.3%), Romania (28.9%), Bulgaria (5.2%), Moldova (1.7%), and Ukraine (3.8%).” fascinating.

the sightseeing ended briefly and we eventually made our way to our first Hungarian bar. this one was called simpla:

though it actually seemed really cool (two floors, open air, decent music, full of people–not necessarily tourists, graffiti on the walls, just plain cool vibes), i didn’t last very long. my night of pretty much no sleep caught up with me and Meryl and i made the long walk home, where the two of us promptly passed out.

~~~~~ Day Two ~~~~~

having brought eggs and orange juice and bread and cheese (aka the essentials), Meryl and i cooked ourselves a quaint little delicious breakfast to start off our day. this pretty much repeated every day, and we couldn’t have been more pleased. after shivering for a few minutes by ourselves, the rest of the gang met us at the Pest end of szechenyi chain bridge to start our tour of Buda:

i didn’t even know it was called this until Alicia asked me how i liked it on my wall: fisherman’s bastion. it’s truly, truly gorgeous and surrounds a little square with a massive statue and matthias church.

it was really such a strange pocket of tourism. at the base of the statue, two men were charging people about $5-10 for the glorious opportunity to hold a hawk or eagle with their professional supervision. the bird would sit on your bird-glove (i’m sure it has a technical name) and it would look majestic for all your photographing needs. then for it’s final trick it would spread its awesome wings behind your head, while it looked disdainfully away from you. people ate it up. i almost ate up a beautiful tourist trap set up by four guys right at the top of the bastion’s wall. you walk up the stairs and see a man sitting at a little table challenging the three other men to the cup and ball game. he would mix up the cups and one of the men kept betting money on one of the cups. sometimes he would win, sometimes he would lose. this truly astonished Philip and i, because every single time we could plainly see which one had the ball. we stared for a few more minutes, walked to the other side of the wall and kept staring, until it dawned on us that the guys were all in it together, trying to fool tourists. anytime somebody would come up, the same friend of the table guy would bet some money, lose it, win it, lose it. it was crazy.

i think we saw some tool actually lose some money (thank god that tool wasn’t me, even though it almost was).

look who followed me to Budapest:

isn’t she beautiful? thank god she wasn’t defiled like this poor fellow:

jealous of Athena? maybe.

that was when we were hanging out in front of the museum. i forgot what it was called. it’s epically beautiful, though, and i think it used to be / is a palace. this was to the entrance to said museum:

this is one of us (Philip) representing all of us, tired after a long day of walking:

we ate some delicious delicious spaghetti at a restaurant called simpla (yes, the same name as the bar, i don’t get it) before making a long walk down a beautiful boulevard towards heroes’ square on the way to our very first hungarian bath. the gang in the park:

i really really wish i had gotten some pictures of inside, outside, all over sides of the szechenyi medicinal bath. that page has a pretty nice gallery, though. we went about an hour before sunset and slowly watched the sky turn dark. the building, all yellow, the water, a light blue with steam constantly rising into the grey-blue turning purple-black sky, wonderful warm water, what a bath. probably my favorite part about Budapest, that bath. so many foreigners everywhere. about a few minutes after getting in, a guy waded over to me and asked me where i was from. i was hesitant to respond, mostly because i assume anyone asking is just fucking with me because most Europeans seem to be able to mark me as American from a marathon away. “United States,” i told him. he said that he and his friends, pointing them out to me, were from Italy and that he just wanted to tell me that i looked exactly exactly exactly like one of their friends from home, everything about me. apparently i can pass as Italian. pretty sweet. other than that, the night passed smoothly warmly wonderfully minerally. Dan tried to get in on a bath chess game and failed. too bad. i was definitely sad to leave.

walking back to our home territory, we relatively quickly decided on a pizzeria for dinner. my pizza was supposed to be Hungarian in its cheese or meat selection, or something, but it tasted like a pretty normal (and magnificent) pizza to me. Meryl, Elise, and i also split some great chocolate-covered profiterole.

after some annoyance finding some drink for the night, we stopped by the gang’s hostel to have some beer, wine, smoke, before heading out to a place Philip’s friend(s) had recommended to him called monoelectro. it had a tiny door on a tiny street, you had to walk down a little flight of stairs, where you found a tiny bar, a little room where you could see computer dreams below which a dj blasted sexy electronica on the floor below. my kind of place. immediately and absolutely worth the ~$5 cover. i treated Dan to a tequila shot for his birthday and then we proceeded to investigate the absinthe situation. i’m still not totally sure whether it was real absinthe or not. i guess there’s really no reason to think not, but it didn’t have a profound effect on me or anything. it just kind of proved to be a ridiculous spectacle, lighting a spoonful of sugar made me want heroin, not some lousy pretend trippy drink. at least i can say i’ve done it now. needless to say, i was exhausted after another long day, so Meryl and i made a relatively early trip back home for some fun and sleep.

~~~~~ Day Three ~~~~~

Meryl and i woke up on time but not early enough to meet Dan on time after our delicious egg breakfast. a half hour late, i felt really bad, but Dan seemed okay. i still felt really bad. we had made plans to go the art museum right there in heroes’ square, but of course when he mentioned how cool the flea market was, we had to check it out. we walked through the park (the same one where the bath was) and eventually found the market. crowded, small, packed, awesome, full of knick-knacks, classic flea market. i love it. i think flea markets are my favorite kinds of place to spend money. besides grocery stores, obviously. i didn’t get anything, but whatever. some fools were trying to rip me off.

before heading over to the museum, the triforce smoked a spliff. this was a third of the result:

what a silly little crazy starry-eyed fantastic sugar cotton lover. a day before, she seriously made our pissed-off waitress burst out laughing when she started giggling and clapping with a big smile when her hot chocolate with a mountain of whipped cream came. i love love love love (in 4/4 time) this little star. Dan and i similarly stuffed our faces on the way to the museum. lauren had been kinda of hating on it at the market, but i was not let down. i don’t know how a building that big called the “Museum of Fine Arts” could ever disappoint. none has yet to, anyway. usually i take a million pictures at museums, but at this one i was less intense. here are two awesome awesome awesome sculptures, anyway:

besides these sculptures, the place housed paintings from about half the countries in Europe in the range of about 1400-1800. pretty ridiculous coverage, my eyes delighted.

we made our way back to Dan’s hostel, where kaela, lauren, and mark we’re having a triad of heart attacks because elise and philip weren’t back yet. the love birds eventually came, the crew ran off hastily, and i was stuck with cotton candy girl all by myself. it was still very early in the day, but we were still feeling really exhausted, so we opted out of exploring Budapest. with a quick stop at our favorite local grocery store (the one i bought bread at on day one), we were back in our apartment for the afternoon/evening/night. what a decadent treat. what a treat of decadence. by the end of the night, we had stuffed our faces with pasta, dipped a loaf of bread into nutella and then into our mouths, munched on fantastic treats of pastries, drunk two bottles of wine, and eaten each other alive. at one point we just lay in bed listening to Person Pitch play from my iphone while reading the lyrics on it. i love that i can do shit that stupid with her and consider it one of the best nights of my life.

come and give me the space i need

come and give me the space i need

come and give me the space i need

come and give me the space i need

come and give me the space i need

come and give me the space i need

come and give me the space i need

come and give me the space i need

~~~~~ Day Four ~~~~~

we actually had method to our madness. we originally planned to hit up the other famous Hungarian bath the night before but, remembering that it was sunday, we soon found out our plans were thwarted by silly schedules. because i had to leave by around 11 on monday, we decided to sleep early the night before (around 10), wake up at 5am the next day, and head over to the bath in the morning. we actually did it!

while crossing the szechenyi (the bath was on the Buda side this time), we smoked a giant spliff of everything Meryl had left. i recommend this kind of bridge crossing for everybody. you start walking across in one state, and you reach the other side in another. a good half hour walk after the bridge crossing brought us to the gellert baths. this place beat the shit out of the other bath in terms of elegance, but it kind of sucked because the thermal baths separated by sex. for the first 45min or so, Meryl and i swam in the normal temperature effervescent swimming pool, while old men stared us down. actually, right when we walked into the room with the pool, a fat old man yelled and pointed at me until a staff member came to me and started speaking to me in Spanish (i guess he didn’t know English and figured Spanish stood a better chance than Hungarian) telling me that i had to wear a shower cap. after the swimming pool, Meryl and i tripped out together in the hot tub nearby. she felt like she was floating in lcl and i felt like i floated in her mind and hers in mine and ours in the water’s and the complete break down of any at-field. she is crazy she is crazy she is crazy. i eventually convinced her sadface to split from me for a good fifteen minutes so we could each check out the thermal baths. i found myself in a gigantic room with two pools, one warmer than the other, and old naked Hungarian men waddling around. who else goes to a bath at 6 in the morning? i definitely stood out. especially because i didn’t actually get naked. yeah yeah i’m a prude.

that pretty much ended my Budapest excursion. Meryl and i walked back, took some silly pictures, showered, packed, checked out of the hostel, bitched at a stupid metro machine, said goodbye much too quickly, and put a thousand miles between us once again. for my own pleasure, here are those silly pictures:

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