Dienstag, 19. November 2013

Day 32: The last day.

I woke up after 3 hours of sleep and still felt very awkward from the night before. Since I slept in the kitchen it´s very hard to avoid certain people and my host wanted to exchange contact details. The thing about couchsurfing is: You always wanna be polite because people will write you a reference. Also I am very bad at being rude which is stupid but I´m working on it.

I gave him my facebook name and started packing my things so I could head to the airport 6 hours before my plane actually leaves. But I really wanted to go. At the airport I bought some food, played ukulele and drank a lot of coffee to stay awake. Since I would change planes in Paris most people only spoke french except for the two german girls next to me. I don´t know if this is rude but I listened to their conversation for a few hours (the flight had a 2 hour delay) and then asked in german if they could watch my stuff while I use the restroom. There was a certain horror in their face but what are you supposed to do? Say something like: "Hey sorry but I can understand you just so you know..."

And it´s not like I listened to them all the time. There was a 6 month old sitting 1 meter away from me that was more interesting. It stared me in the face for the longest time, fell asleep with the hand in it´s mouth and woke itself by sneezing and all of this in a loop. So that kept me entertained for some time.

The flight to paris was long and I watched a lot of weird asian movies. I couldn´t finish the last one which they advertised as a "comedy" but it just made me so sad all the time. Maybe I lacked the cultural context but there were certain points where I felt really sorry for all the characters and not seeing the end confused me a lot. So much that when Airfrance gave a 10 minute telephone card so I can contact the friend that picks me up and tell her the new arrival time and flight number (the flight delay made me miss my flight in Paris... again) I used all 10 minutes to talk about the movie. The phone just went dead and I realized that I am very stupid sometimes.

But I knew that every airport has some way of getting free wifi so I signed up for a useless french newsletter and it gave me 15 minutes of wifi access. Thanks to facebook she still got all the information.

On the plane to Vienna I finally fell asleep and when I arrived I learned that the company had lost my bag. I was actually happy about it because this way I hardly had to carry anything home. Karina, probably the nicest person in existence, picked me up from the airport. No one ever picked me up from the airport but I could get used to it because it´s so much fun. Especially if both persons decided to celebrate the moment, scream and jump. It was magical.

We took the train home, I tried to tell some travel stories but due some serious sleep deprivation I was´t able to use german grammar or remember what I already told 2 minutes before so I guess at least Karina had fun and after some time we listened to stuff instead of talking. Thanks again!

Day 31: The day the police brought me home

Lets just pretend I didn´t take a two weeks break from everything and wrote this blog post when I should have done it. Yes? Yes.

The night before a friend hooked me up with Helga, a photographer that I kinda knew because she made her masters degree in my hometown and we share a lot of contacts but never really met in person. She lives in NY at the moment and invited me to join her at a James Blake concert. So day 31 started with me trying to get tickets.

Therefore I went to "Disc-O-Rama"- a small record shop in lower manhattan but their internet didn´t work at the moment so they asked me to return later. I was hungry anyway so I took the chance to look for the supermarket I found on my second day on the continent. After some temporary confusion and the wrong turns that come with it I actually made it and invested 5 dollars in a drink and awesome supermarket sushi. I will miss this back home!

On my "way back" I passed the "Little Lebowski Shop". I really wanted to go in but I didn´t feel like talking and in these small shops they always talk to you because you´re the only costumer and stuff so I moved on, turned at the end of the block and came back. Fuck it, I really wanted to see what they sell.
And, lucky me, the moment I entered a 1,5 hour conversation started but I actually enjoyed it. I may suck at smalltalk but I am awesome at quoting movies and movie trivia and so was this guy. We connected very fast.

Nicholas opened the shop together with a friend. In his free time he works on a science-fiction movie that is based on selected autobiographical episodes of so said friend- who will also play the leading role. Nicholas writes the script and builds the props- he stored some of them in the back of the shop and showed them to me, explaining what function each of them serves. You also have to imagine loud classical music playing at all times and every time the song changed Nicholas would stop for a moment and tell me exactly which symphony, composer and era we will listen to next. I was entertained!

I ended up giving him the my soundcloud name and buying 2 stickers that I happen to find very funny but then again I watched the movie like 20 times. They say:


I wen´t back to my ticket-buying mission and this time Disc-O-Rama had internet access. Next stop was the museum of the moving image which was just soooooooo good. A lot of models, screening rooms, photographs, installations, workstations and database research areas. My favorite part was probably the room where you could overdub movie scenes with your own voice and the camera showcase. I researched a little before going there and this way luckily knew where to search for temporary art installation: DVD Dead Drop.

I then went home, drank some coffee with Sophie in the living room and, since it would take me an hour to get to Terminal 5, had to leave soon after. Helga, Rebecca (a work colleague of Helga) and I met up, survived the security body and bag controls and ended up drinking 8 dollar beer while listening to Nosaj thing. I love Nosaj thing but, since he was only the support act, a lot of the mood got lost over people talking and the fact that they didn´t play him loud enough. This guy just released a new video where he shows how to properly use projection mapping:

I didn´t know anything by James Blake but he was good too and suddenly the whole location was stuffed with well dressed people lifting their phones in the air to film the show. We tried to find a good spot and found one- behind a couple making out. But sometimes you have to be a creep in order to see the stage. I thought it would be funny to include them in my stage-pictures so here we go, James Blake in a literal love triangle starring a couple making out for a ridiculously long time.

After the show we tried to find some food and ended up in a diner where we paid 20 dollars for a veggie burger and 10 dollars for fries. It was very good food but not worth what we paid for it. Still, a very nice night. I was happy. 

The way back to the flat was interesting- while waiting for the J-train a guy hit on me. He was totally stoned, like, completely wasted but he did it in such a funny way that, after some time, I just talked to him to make time pass faster. He was a film student and probably the best smalltalker of all times. He just knew how to do it so instead of asking me how I am and what I do he wanted to know:
"What´s your favorite color of the rainbow?"
"If you could be an animal, what would you be?"
"Do you think life on other planets exist?"

This way I had fun and made it home. But as soon as I arrived I had to face another problem: My host wouldn´t open the door. I tried for a very long time- rang the bell, shouted his name, even shot little stones at his window but no reaction. I borrowed strangers phones to call him but he wouldn´t pick up. Around 2 am I decided to look for a place to sleep so I went back to the "main street" (and I´m not talking about a very safe or nice district here) and looked for some kind of motel. I didn´t find a motel but an old man who offered me money if I would sleep with him and a guy that smelled my hair. This is not only cliché but also scary so I changed my plans again: I tried to find some policemen and, because of the districts reputation, at least this didn´t take me too long. So I walked up to the car, signaled them to open the door and asked if they could drop me off at a motel. But not confident, more like very tired, very irritated and super pissed.

They told me to get in the car, checked my ID and asked me all kinds of questions for about 10 minutes. Then they drove to my hosts place and started to make noise- it took us another 30 minutes and we probably woke the WHOLE neighbourhood but my host opened the window asking "Dude, whassup?" I responded with "Man, I really need to get in" and he came downstairs.

Topless and very aggressively he opened the door and shouted: "Lisa, you are not allowed to bring guys? Who are these douchebags?" Clearly he didn´t realise that these guys were policeman and they reacted with shouting back. The whole thing got very loud and rude and I really didn´t know what to do. I probably  just stared at them. It was just surreal.

But at some point everyone calmed down and I went into the flat. I felt really uncomfortable and to top this my host decided to stay up and talk to me, which made it super awkward. There are certain moments in life when you want to implode and this was one of them. But I got home, I saw a policecar from the inside and it´s a good story to tell my fictional grandchildren who will hopefully think I was a complete punk in my twenties.

Dienstag, 5. November 2013

Day 30: An awful lot of running

One reason why I would make a good companion to a time lord is that I can (probably) walk for days without getting tired. It´s a good thing when you get lost and also comes in handy when everything you wanna see is closed or shut down.

Today I did something I hardly do when traveling: I actually made a plan, took screenshots of directions and had some kind of schedule. My first stop was out of business, that´s ok. The second stop was closed- I was probably too early but no worries cause this way I could spend more time at the museum of the moving picture or actually not because they are closed on tuesdays.

Still, I was in a pretty good mood so I went into the next restaurant, ate something and used their wifi to find a random thing that´s open. This way I ended up visiting the "Mount Vernon Hotel" which the weirdest and loveliest museum I have ever been to. To get in you had to ring a doorbell, then 3 old ladies would come and ask you if you want a tour. We started out at the gift shop and small talked.

Every time people hear that I am from Austria they start telling me what they know about my country and to be honest I don´t even know half of this stuff. I do think that they also make a lot of it up but mostly just end up nodding and saying things like "Well… yeah…. Austria is quite a country".
I think today I even made stuff up too but I really wanted to entertain them and it worked!

2 more people arrived and we started the tour. 90 year old Rosa needed some help turning the TV on but then we watched a nice 20 minute movie about NY between 1820 - 1830. Rose guided us through the different rooms and I learned a lot about furniture.
She assured us that everything in the room has a story so we ended up asking about random objects and yes, she knew all of them. In one room we found a basket of fans and Rosa actually is a expert on past times flirting rituals.

I actually liked it so much that I bought a fan and the phrase-list and I plan to practice. Someday it might come in handy.  For example: When my husband and me are throwing a fancy dinner party and he invites the guy I´m having an affair with. We could totally flirt without flirting and my husband would´t know. I just don´t get how the guy replies and also; what happens if more people in the room speak this language? I guess I´ll have some reading to do when I´m home but people back then did a lot of funny stuff.

Rosa told me to visit PS1- I walked there and yes, also closed on Tuesdays. At this point I didn´t feel like going home yet so I just picked a random street and walked it. 2 hours later I ended up in a cafe in Willamsburg eating cake and drawing on napkins. The cake you can see here was actually very weird. Not bad but also not really good. I came home around 7 pm an ran into hungry Sophie from the Netherlands. We cooked, Sophie cut Eric´s hair and now everyone´s small talking while I´m sitting on my laptop being semi-social. Man I´m tired.

Day 29: NY!

Last day in Baltimore so I tried my best to ignore the cold and get up on time. For some reason it actually worked so I could pack my stuff and drink coffee without stress. Cheryl invited me to see her garden before I leave so we drove there and it was pretty awesome.

She bought two pieces of land on which her team, some residents and a few school kids grow seasonal vegetables and flowers. Sometimes they craft garden decorations out of trash with the kids and right now they´re working on a financial plan to keep the project save for the next years.

At 11 Andy and me met up for coffee and I left him with a list of movies to watch. Actually he got the full "I don´t understand why America does so many unnecessary remakes"- speech because of "old boy" and the person on the next table actually had an opinion on it too. I advise every person on the planet to watch Chan-Wook Parks original as soon as they can and without reading up on it first. The remake messes with the Plot points and basically functions as one big spoiler. Everyone should do it now. Right now.

I took the Bolt Bus to NY and found my way to Eric´s place within the next 2 hours so I would mark this as a success. I´m living with 6 people here and actually share my room with a girl. Once again my sofa is situated in the kitchen but it´s a very nice place. We drank Belgium beer and played youtube karaoke so it was a nice evening. Now I have to make the most of my last 2,5 days here. 

(Oh, and we have a dog)

Sonntag, 3. November 2013

Day 28: Fall is here

Sometimes when I wake up in cold rooms it makes me incapable of leaving the bed for a few hours and I can´t do anything about it or explain why- it just happens. Since I own a smartphone now the timespan of silent suffering automatically expands because I can check tumblr, nap, check Facebook, nap again and as long as I don´t get hungry there really is no reason to get up. Especially on a sunday when a cat is sleeping next to me.

I guess it took me about 3 hours to get up today and I am not sure if I should be proud or ashamed for it but I´m gonna put it on the internet anyway. In the kitchen I ran into Cheryl, one of Kitts roommates, so we ate breakfast and talked.

Cheryl operates an urban garden in the neighborhood where local children that don´t have access to parks or nature can learn about gardening and responsibility. She explained a lot to me and I think this is one of the best projects/causes I heard about in a long time.
The cats were totally pissed today because we were running out of cat food and it was actually really funny to watch them. Gizmo, the one that follows me around and, as I know now, belongs to Cheryl, just pretended to be mad and had a hard time on deciding if she hates or loves us. But she made her decision and is now helping me writing this blog entry. 

In Baltimore some districts are open on sunday so buying new cat food was easy. Cheryl planned to go to Hampton and I decided to join her since I heard that there should be a comic book store nearby. My phone does´t have service in the US so all I do the whole day long is walking from one wifi-spot to another in order to keep contact with my hosts. She dropped me off on 36th Avenue and I got myself hot chocolate because it was still very cold and even with my new thrift store clothes I don´t own warm enough stuff. The area consists of a lot of Antique stores, coffee shops, restaurants and gift stores. I ended up buying newspaper cut outs and stickers for my ukulele. 

As I finally found "Atomic books" I didn´t really like it. There were a lot of people in there and the room was very open so you had no chance to wander around a discover stuff, everything was just presented. But they had a very good independent comic book corner with self-published works by local artist. I bought myself "milk and moo" by Yumi Sakugawa which is about two cats that have to take care about existence itself and right now I don´t understand it but I´ll have time to think about it on my bus ride to NY tomorrow and I think it has some kind of deeper message.

The plan was to find wifi and contact Cheryl as soon as I was done so maybe she could take me with her if she´s still in Hampton. The sun was setting again and I wasn´t too keen on walking home in the dark. Usually what I do to get wifi passwords is walking into coffee shops, buying a cookie and then asking if I could use the internet but in 3 shops the wifi didn´t work at the moment. I then tried an Italian restaurant where I bought crab chips and, after not really getting the wifi there to work, just borrowed a phone from the son of the owner and called her. My journey of finding wifi got me a bunch of snacks for dinner.

We met up at atomic books and while waiting I spotted a poster announcing the first issue of the sandman overture that just came out. I walked up to the counter and not only did they have it in stock, it only costs 5 dollars. This is surreal and a possible reason for me moving to the US someday. I then found an entire shelf dedicated to Neil Gaimans works and bought an illustrated version of the "make good art" speech he gave at Philadelphias University of Arts in May 2012. Seems like this store is actually pretty neat!

Cheryl took me to a friends place because we decided to go for a walk. 2 lovely Ladies joined us and one of them also played the ukulele so we had a lot to talk about. Somehow we ended up at a greek festival and decided to eat there. It took place in the cellar on an orthodox church and there were blue balloons everywhere. On one side on the room you could buy food and on the other one they watched american football. Ravens game tonight.

It has been a very nice day and I am preparing for NY now. This time I´ll be living in Brooklyn. It is still extremely cold in this room even though I have an electric heater 30cm away from me. I checked the windows and a few glasses are broken so I guess whatever temperature we reach outside I will experience tonight but I get hot showers here so no reason to complain- I built some kind of office on the floor and it´s nice.

Samstag, 2. November 2013

Day 27: Art and stuff

That one cat follows me around all day and basically started living in my bed. As I woke up today she was sleeping on me. As soon as she realized that I am awake she started crying for attention. That cat is crazy for being cuddled. I imagine the translation of her cat-words somehow like: "Human, I am ready now, you can do the thing!"

As I finally managed to get out of bed I decided to visit a museum today. Jeremy told me about this art gallery in the north district and Andy, a guy I met two days ago, wanted to do something anyway so we teamed up and it was great fun.

On my way to Penn station (that I know by heart now) I decided to not hide my cellphone anymore and finally started taking pictures of all the street art on my way. Baltimore is full of it and it all was part of the "Baltimore open wall project". You can find some information about it here:

The gallery was for free and you could see a lot of art there. For some reason Andy thought I am a painter like him so he tried to talk with me about all these different eras and artists that I didn´t know anything about. I am very bad with classical painters but I am good with contemporary art so at least there I could set my inner smartass free. There was a room where you could draw so Andy made a scribble of me which turned out quite good.

After the gallery we went to the nearby sculpture garden and ended up at in the cellar of John Hopkins University where Andy played on a piano while I helped a stranger set up chairs for a lecture. Andy is a great musician and plays like a thousand instruments, probably even good.

We grabbed some tea and soup and I wen´t to Andys place to play with his dog. I already knew his roommates (every city is actually just a small village of the same people) and totally forgot about the time so when I looked out the window and saw the sun set I panicked a little. It was a 20 minute walk back to the compound and as a small white girl this turned out to be very interesting. A lot of people catcalled and shouted at me, always referring to my skin color. The creepiest guy called me snow white and got very aggressive. He shouted that I "better come back and talk to him" but I didn´t turn around and just kept on walking until I finally got home. Scary shit, I will never forget about time again.

For the rest of the day I worked on a song, watched "Valley of the Dolls" and tried to finally bring my Blog up to date. It is 2 am now and I am just looking forward to sleep. Tomorrow is my last day here, let´s see what I´ll do. Maybe I´ll try for the harbor again.