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2015 was Epic – Part 2

As stated in Part 1, my 2015 resolution had been to visit another country.  I had gone to Australia in June, and by September I was packing up a backpack with Fat Face and my sister as the three of us argued over who was going to carry the fat Lonely Planet travel book in their bag.

Raven and I had been talking about traveling somewhere together for a while, but it never seemed realistic because we are always broke.  This year was different though, so I basically made the executive decision that if we were going to travel somewhere together we had to do it NOW.  It was the first time that we both happened to have a little bit of money (well, I had a little bit of money and my Dad likes my sister more than me so he gave her a little bit of money), and we both had nothing tying us down.  I knew I had to take advantage of this timing.  Who knows, in another year or whatever, she may be in school or have a job that she can’t take time away from or get pregnant or anything!  Knock on wood.  So, we started googling “cheap and safe countries.”  Well, I started googling.  Raven sat on the couch and watched Lifetime movies.

A bunch of Eastern Europe destinations kept popping up.  I’ve always wanted to go to Istanbul, and I also kept hearing how amazing Budapest is, so we figured we’d do those two cities plus a few in between.  The trip went:

Budapest, Hungary > Sibiu, Romania > Bucharest, Romania > Sofia, Bulgaria > Istanbul, Turkey.

I wanted to go to the obscure countries that most people don’t visit when traveling to Europe.  The next most important decision was who to bring.  Fat Face was our first choice.  We wanted a guy, mostly for safety purposes.  Not that Fat Face could provide any protection whatsoever, so it was more about the facade.  Also, he and Raven know each other well and get along, but most importantly, Fat Face is not too annoying.  He absolutely does the most annoying things sometimes (like telling me he will be over in 15 minutes and then shows up an hour and a half later, strolling in like everything is just dandy), but he doesn’t have the annoying type of characteristics that one may be concerned about with a travel partner.  For example, he doesn’t snore, he doesn’t eat gross, he’s not stubborn and he doesn’t fidget his legs or anything like that.  Also, he’s a pretty go-with-the-flow kind of guy.  However, his mustache was immediately annoying and that was the very first thing that Raven and I took care of.

Fat Face has a beard (kind of) and he had let his mustache grow into his mouth.  It was fucking gross.  He kept licking the ends of it, so the hairs were always moist and for some reason he thought that this was acceptable.  Um no.  Raven and I got on the plane and informed him that the very first thing we are doing once we arrive at the first hostel, is trimming that thing.  He tried to fight us on it at first, but quickly realized there was absolutely no way he was going to win that battle, so he conceded.  I would have chopped that thing off in his sleep otherwise.

I just got worked up over his mustache again and lost my original train of thought.  Getting back to asking Fat Face to come with us, he said he wasn’t sure at first, which I kind of took as a no.  A couple of weeks later I got a text from him out of nowhere that simply said, “I’m coming with you guys.”  It made me smile.

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Yes, he is purposely being cheesy.

On the long plane ride, an older woman next to us thought that it was acceptable to lay down in the middle of the aisle.  She took her entire body, and laid it onto the floor of the center aisle.  Yes, the MAIN aisle.  The one that the drink carts go down.  Amazing.  It would be a solid five minutes before a flight attendant would come and inform the little old woman that it was probably one of the weirdest things that she has ever witnessed.

I loved Budapest immediately when the taxi driver pulled all the way up onto the sidewalk to drop us off at our hostel.  It was also the most beautiful city I have ever seen.  This wasn’t necessarily because of the natural landscape, it was because of the city landscape; the architecture.  Every single structure you pass is so pretty that you have to stop and marvel.  It was a good warm-up city too, because we were most in our element there.  It’s the most “Westernized” of all the places we visited.  It kind of felt like being in New York, but replace broadway with opera, English with Hungarian, pizza with kebabs and add thousands of more years of history and beauty.  Oh, and there are no fat people.  No fatties anywhere in Eastern Europe for that matter.  Well, Bucharest, Romania had some stocky middle-aged folks… but there was probably only eleven of them in the whole city and I’ll get to that later.

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Parliament building.

One of the great things about being in Second World countries, is that there are not as many bullshit rules and regulations.  You can drink outside, which is very convenient.  I doubt that it’s been “legalized,” it’s probably  just not illegal because their legislation doesn’t have a stick up their ass like the American legislative branch. We spent a lot of time on bicycles that we rented, and cruised from park to park, grabbing a beer and sitting in the grass enjoying the simple life.  People do that there still… go to parks and socialize.  The parks were packed with young people just sitting around and talking to one another.

One of the parks.

One of the parks.

There was a big palace thing that we were able to explore because like I said, they don’t bother with stupid regulations.  I’m not sure what this “palace” was exactly, or if it was still functional.  I suppose if I wanted to, I could fairly easily find out, but I’ll save that for a time when I’m feeling intellectually inspired.  Right now, I’m just drinking orange juice and picking at my toes, wondering why I was cursed with having Flintstone feet.  Anyway, we could easily walk into what were caverns I suppose, and we followed them down and around until we were in the pitch black, below ground and feeling like medieval prisoners.  It was very cool.  That kind of thing would be roped off if American’s had anything to do with it, so we got a nice jolt of adrenaline from the exploration.

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We found a restaurant that we considered ourselves regulars of because we went twice.  They had a drink called Tokyo Sex which Raven became obsessed with and Fat Face kept saying obnoxiously loud like a toddler.  “Lets get us some Tokyo Sex!  Whoo!  Can I get a fuck yeah?!”  This is real sentences that come from his mouth.

Face Face, Raven and Tokyo Sex.

Face Face, Raven and Tokyo Sex.

It was actually pretty funny and turned into an inside joke for the rest of the trip.  One could easily spend two weeks in that city, so there was a lot that we didn’t get to do and see.  Fat Face kept talking about this damn shoe monument.  I mean, I should at least pretend to feel compelled to pay my respects to the Hungarians who were murdered by the Nazi’s, (which is what this monument is commemorating) but it was just a couple dozen of pairs of bronze cast shoes by the river and I am a desensitized asshole like most of us, and I much rather wanted to go to a medical museum and look at what they used for abortion tools back in the day.  It was pretty gruesome.

Old school abortion tools.

Old school abortion tools.

Luckily, the three of us got into a fight the following day, so we split up and Fat Face was able to go see his fucking shoe monument that he kept talking up.  Raven went back to the hostel to use wifi for hours and I almost got molested by a creepy old man at a citadel.  We were secluded, he was clearly mentally ill, and out of the corner of my eye I saw his slack jaw with his tongue hanging out of his mouth, then him pulling out his penis, obviously expecting me to do something with it.  Gross.  I literally ran away.  When we all decided to love each other again, I asked Fat Face how the shoe monument was, and he said, “It was just a bunch of shoes… but it was nice.”  He should learn to always listen to me.

I stole this picture from Fat Face's Facebook photos. These are the damn shoes.

I stole this picture from Fat Face’s Facebook photos. These are the damn shoes.

The Turkish baths were incredible.  They are essentially big indoor natural hot pools.  The water comes from deep below the surface.  We floated around in those for a while and befriended a Canadian opera singer who was on tour.  I think right around this time is when Raven decided that when she grows up, she wants to be Princess Jasmine.  She was just chillin’ in the water, ignoring Fat Face and I as she fantasized about this bath house being her backyard, and cute servant boys bringing her Tokyo Sex’s on silver platters.  There were saunas as well, but they were quite literally only four feet wide.  Fat Face and I went inside one, squeezed in next to one another, then just said, “okay, that was fun,” and walked out after eight seconds.

Another merch person I know is Hungarian and lives in Budapest.  I gave him a shout and after bringing us to a rocker bar that had people thrashing around so hard that I thought they were going to break their own necks, he took us to a castle up on this mountain top right in the city.  As we walked around the outside of this incredible old castle that made you feel like you may look over your shoulder and see Lady Guinevere, Raven was becoming honest to god depressed because she is not Princess Jasmine.   Or Lady Guinevere.  I get honest to god depressed when I watch Dawson’s Creek and have to come to terms with the fact that Pacey Witter is not a real person that I can fall in love with.  However, I still try to will into existence that Joshua Jackson (the actor his plays the role) might magically be exactly like Pacey and somehow I’ll run into him and be with him forever.  In the same way, Raven was dealing with the fact that she will never be Princess Jasmine, while she was simultaneously trying to figure out a way that she might be able to will that into existence.  She just wants to be able to wear elegant flowing gowns, stroll through glorious towers and cobblestone paths while sipping on mimosas and looking pretty all day and night.  The lead singer of one of the bands that I have worked for actually lives in part of that motherfucking castle we were at, so when Raven heard that, she was prepared to partake in a blind marriage.

At night, we hit up a couple of “ruins bars.”  They were by far the coolest bars I’ve ever been to, but bar isn’t really the right word.  They’re more like… old abandoned buildings that are considered in ruins, and people have just gone in there and started selling alcohol and playing music and hanging out.  Like I said, minimal regulations.  There were a bunch of different rooms, but the center is all open air.  An open aired courtyard surrounded by four walls with rooms.  Each area had its own thing going on.  One area was more like a club.  It had a DJ and lame lights and all that nonsense.  The three of us were nice and tipsy at this point, so we thought it would be a good idea to dance.  Raven actually looks cool dancing, so I just try to imitate her, and then Fat Face thinks he is Michael Jackson when he is drunk, so he was off trying to impress the Hungarians with his dance moves, but ended up falling on his ass instead.  It was beautiful.  We laughed a lot that night.  Another area was a hookah lounge, then there were the bar areas of course.  There was also an area that had a live band playing weird experimental music and there was an area with people making food and then my favorite part… just a bunch of interesting art all over the walls.

The entrance to one of the ruins bars.

The entrance to one of the ruins bars.

 

Raven and I inside the bar laughing at who knows what.

Raven and I inside the bar laughing at who knows what.

The day that we were meant to leave by train to head to Romania, was the day that thousands of Syrians poured into the Budapest train stations…

To be continued.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Is it Weird that I get Turned on by Vocabulary Words?

Asceticism has been my new vocabulary word.  My friend Devon and I just got over our phase of using the word “pheromones” like it was our job, so now I’m on to asceticism.  I’m obsessed with it.  For it being such a rare word, I think I have somehow found a way to say it at least once a day for the last week and a half.  I was reading “No Impact Man” (a book that should be required reading for all human beings) and when I came across it, I think I literally said out loud, “what in the hell is that?”  I looked up the definition in my Webster’s pocket dictionary that I keep on my nightstand, and have been fascinated ever since.

Asceticism is a lifestyle or practice characterized by extreme self-denial, austerity, self-mortification, avoidance of indulgences and abstinence from worldly pleasures, with the purpose of obtaining a higher spiritual or moral state.  I apologize for the run-on sentence, but I got excited.  Anyway, think monks.  The practice is typically for religious purposes, but it doesn’t need to be.

This made me start wondering… when I stop relationships before they even begin, does this mean I’m practicing asceticism?  When I don’t eat when I’m hungry because I lose my appetite due to my current hatred for First World consumption and get pissed at the endless rows of pop-tars.  Does this mean I’m ascetic?  No Caitlin, it just means that you’re self-destructive and crazy.  I wanted to associate myself with my newfound vocab word, but I don’t think I can quite claim it.  There are some characteristics of the lifestyle that I can relate to, but with MUCH less severity.  Those monks are hardcore.

I was passion vomiting (a term I have coined, meaning when I passionately rant or go excitedly off on a tangent about something that the listener could not care less about, but I don’t care and continue to make them suffer through my opinions) on the boy with the white hair recently.  I was telling him all about why he shouldn’t keep his air conditioner on 68 degrees because it’s murdering the planet, and all of my other epiphanies I’ve had since reading “No Impact Man.”  He said that this book is ruining his life and he hasn’t even read it.  I wish he was saying this because it has inspired him to stop buying plastic and make some life changes… but no.  He means it’s ruining his life because he has to listen to my passion vomits.  I laughed really hard, but still went on to try to say, “No!  But the whole point is that it’s not ‘ruining‘ our lives!  It’s enhancing it!  It’s not about asceticism–” and then I realized, the boy with the white hair is totally ascetic.  Well, in a mild way, but I still got a rush of excitement and slightly turned on because I got to apply my new favorite word and because I think I discovered his word, which is austere.  Like I said in Extinguishing a Wildfire, I am fascinated with what I believe a person’s “word” is.

Then I got immediately sad.  Sad for the boy with the white hair, that he doesn’t really allow himself to be happy.  Many of the things that I think of as “worldly pleasures,” he thinks of as distractions.  He is the guy that is not tempted by a pretty girl if he has work to do.  How he came to be this way is quite a story, but I’m not going to tell it here because it is private.  All I’ll say is that it is amazing that he has become a fully functioning, respectable human.  In that regard, he’s truly admirable and I respect his goal, which is essentially to become financially successful.  For someone who has such little interest in money and things, he sacrifices a lot to pursue prosperity.  He does it for altuistic reasons though.  He has siblings that he feels responsible for, and wants to provide for them.  He doesn’t care about having money for himself, but he needs to succeed so that he can take care of them.

In some ways, we are very much on the same page with avoiding indulgences.  He, more than anyone else who is currently in my life, is equally as disgusted with consumerism as I am.  Neither of us spend much money on “things,” for the most part we only take what we need, so we both live pretty simply.

In the past, I have always urged him to let loose a little bit.  I don’t think I’ve ever actually used the phrase “let loose,” because that sounds incredibly lame, but you get my point.  I constantly try to convince him to go on a vacation.  I MADE him strip down to his boxers and jump into a closed pool with me at three o‘ clock in the morning.  I am always trying to get him to play fun bar games with me like, “guess which bar patron played this song on the jukebox” and I regularly tell him to just go out into the sun and soak up some happy rays.  Instead, he sits in a Starbucks for hours NOT hanging out with me and working on codes or coding or whatever the fuck it’s called.  Basically, working on stuff that I don’t understand.  Side note: he’s very academically inclined.

He goes to work, he leaves, then he works again from home until late at night, and then wakes up and does it again.  Okay, wait.  I don’t want to make him sound like a boring white dude.  He will definitely go do things and one of his jobs requires him to be social.  We go to dive bars together, we hit up art shows and music shows and occasionally grab lunch or something.  He has a small group of friends that he sometimes hangs out with and he dates girls (though he seems to kind of suck at it just like I do).  However, all of this falls far behind work on his priority list.  If he feels that he should be sitting behind a computer doing work instead, then we are not going to a show that night.  Most of his heavy work load is self-induced.  Yes, he has a day job, but one that he could just leave at 5:00pm and be done for the day.  He takes on a lot of extra work by choice, and that’s where his ridiculous work load comes from.

When we laugh together, I can feel that he feels good, but I can also feel that he is partially resenting it.  It’s a distraction for him.  He doesn’t want to be thinking about me later that day or tomorrow or next week when he is trying to work.  That’s where the self denial comes in.  He purposely deprives himself of “feeling good” because the good feeling gets in the way of his quest toward a higher state.

“Don’t you get lonely?” I asked him one evening, and his immediate response was, “Yeah.”  He didn’t say it with a tone of despair, he just said it very matter-of-factly.  More like yeah, of course I do but it’s a necessity and I don’t think much of it.  Relationships of any kind are what he considers distractions, and distractions in his world, are unacceptable.

I felt compelled to “save” him, introduce him to fun.  Then I realized, who am I to say what does and does not make him happy?  I’m being selfish and I’m trying to instill my values onto him.  Just because he doesn’t find immense pleasure in hopping fences to jump into pools in the middle of the night the way I do, doesn’t mean that he doesn’t find pleasure in the things that he does do. I keep trying to force “fun” into his world, because that is important to me.  I keep thinking that if he just gets little doses of fun, then he’ll be happy and not want to deprive himself of said happiness.  In a way, I think I’ve been trying to change him, but maybe he doesn’t need change.  Maybe I need the change.  I need to remember that not everyone seeks the same values that I do and not everyone is as discontent with themselves as I am.

I live off of momentary exhilaration; immediate gratification, so I try to provide that, and be that for everyone else, and maybe that is where a lot of my issues lie.  Most people don’t live as temporarily as I do, and I need to realize that just because the boy with the white hair doesn’t feel the need to break into abandoned buildings with me, doesn’t mean that he is depriving himself of happiness.  Maybe his source of happiness is just different from mine, or maybe he has contentment figured out.  Or maybe he is just as fucked up as I am and this epiphany is meaningless, but the point is, that asceticism is a cool word and I respect the boy with the white hair’s lifestyle choices, even though I sometimes don’t understand them.

Caitlin Rule: Don’t judge what you don’t understand.

There is more about the boy with the white hair in my book that will hopefully be published sometime in the near future.

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Michael – Moments 1 of 3

Michael was my lifeline at a time in my life when I would have otherwise drowned, and this is the only gift that I can give him. Just some words on a page. I don’t know if he will ever read this, and I know that he probably already knows all of it because he could feel me, but sometimes it’s good to write it down anyway.

Michael came at the worst time.  Who knows why I’m choosing now to write about him, but it is time.  Maybe it’s because I’m moving again; he’s all over this house.  Moving is always stressful, especially for me because I’m just so goddamn sick of it.  Since I graduated high school in 2005, I have lived in 14 different houses.  This is not including the multiple tour buses that I have spent many months in.  I think moving takes an emotional toll because you are forced to go through old sentimental shit that we all, for some reason, keep.  Items like ex-boyfriend gifts, old photographs of family members that have passed, letters from best friends whom you barely speak to anymore are revealed and it all takes a psychological toll as you’re throwing them into the back of a truck that you had to borrow from the guy down the street who hopefully won’t expect a date out of the favor.

Last year, upon moving in, there was a lot to be done and I felt completely overwhelmed.  Michael helped ease the pain. He helped me paint the inside, he brought me tools I needed and shelves and faucet aerators and PBR for us to drink while we listened to music and sat on the cold hard floor while we waited for the walls to finish drying.  I was painting my bed frame, but taking my sweet time, so my mattress was in the middle of my kitchen for what I think was weeks before I actually started sleeping in a bedroom.  Waking up in the morning with him, in the middle of the kitchen on an uncovered mattress with the gentle hum of the refrigerator, may be the only times that being in that house really felt like home.  Now that I’m sitting here, really trying to cultivate memories of Michael and I, I’m realizing that the stages of that house are the perfect metaphor for our relationship.  When the house was relatively empty, before furniture purchases and boxes of old artwork and comic books arrived, Michael and I felt light.  Light, simple and untainted.  We would sit outside in the dark for hours, just drinking and talking.  He had such beautiful eyes. They were guarded, but sometimes, and only sometimes, he would falter, and the guards came down and those eyes would look at me in a way that consumed my every sense.  For just those single, fleeting seconds, it’s like he owned my entire sensory system and I was hooked to him as if he was somehow connected to me intravenously.  As time progressed, and the state of the house progressed, Michael and I began to feel heavy.  With the arrival of more clutter, came the arrival of more mental clutter.  Those unguarded looks became fewer and more fleeting and eventually led to times when I think we felt lost and confused in each other’s eyes instead of safe and light.

He worked (or works, I’m not really sure what he’s doing nowadays) at a retirement community as what I would describe, a handy-man.  I thought that was so sexy.  I love boys who get off of work and have paint splattered on their calloused hands, smell like fresh sweat and have grease stains on their jeans.  Michael had all of these. He would bring me a bunch of knickknacks from rooms of people who had just passed.  It became an inside joke that whenever he would bring me something new for my house I would ask, “Did this come from a dead person’s room?”  Thank you to the little old lady who once owned the nightlight I now have.  That’s my favorite.  This move was taking place during my dark days.

I refer to my period of living in Los Angeles as “my dark days,” but there was also a time, about six months after leaving LA, that I lost myself to yet another episode of dark days.  Of all my life obstacles chronicled by adolescent angst, teen heart ache, college stress, quarter life crises and career let downs, I would say that last year for several months, I was at my absolute worst, and this is when Michael came into my life.  Here I am, moving again, out of this place that parts of him are scattered throughout, so maybe that’s why I’m choosing now to write about him.  The days are no longer dark though, and I think he is partly responsible for that.

Michael and I were forced into what I call, “serious mode” because we breached the best friend line.  I knew Michael’s best friend before I knew him.  We will refer to him as V.  V and I VERY mildly were seeing each other for a second before Michael came into the picture.  We never slept together or did anything except for kiss for that matter.  He is a gem, but about two weeks in, in true Caitlin style, I knew there was no way it was going to progress.  We had that uncomfortable chat, and decided to continue as just friends… but maybe I hadn’t had made that as clear as I thought I had. I suck at that type of confrontation, and this whole calamity solidifies that notion.

V had already begun hooking up with his ex girlfriend again, so I was thinking, sweet! I’m off the hook. Apparently not.  An inappropriately short amount of time later, Michael and I kissed. We both did not think it was a big deal. Whatever, we got drunk and made-out, it happens. Michael was going to tell V and all would be well since V was back with his ex who just happens to be Michael’s roommate… of course!  There is the cherry on top just to make this situation even more appropriate for the mess that is my life.

Under normal circumstances, Michael and I probably would have just hooked up a few more times and lightly seen each other until it would inevitably fizzle out, like it always does.  However, because we unwittingly catapulted ourselves into a war zone, also known as a love triangle, we were now brothers in arms; bonded.  The curse of the best friend. That curse has always plagued me.  I can’t regret this mistake though, because it means that I had Michael, and we had our two-week romance.

I describe a “two week romance” as any romance that is viciously passionate, and ends as quickly as it begins with little or no communication before or after the affair.  It doesn’t have to be two weeks, but I’ve noticed that this is a common amount of time for these fleeting yet fervent romances to last, and “two week romance” has a certain ring to it.  I think Michael and I lasted about two or three months.  Just like I said though, the way we were thrusted together overnight, we ended just as abruptly.  Even though we were short-lived, I had someone who I could feel, during a time in my life when I couldn’t feel anything else except for crippling anxiety. It was literally crippling because it harshly effected my day-to-day life.  I had immense trouble leaving the house, I refused to see any friends and I was having frequent panic attacks.  Dark days.  I don’t think that there is anyone else but Michael who could have seen me through that time.  We had a deep, almost psychic connection that I have a hard time understanding, so I’m not going to cheapen it with an inadequate wordy explanation.  Let’s just say that we were very close, but a closeness that we could feel but not really see.  Michael had gotten into my bloodstream…

To be continued.

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Confessions of a Make-out Whore

I think I’m finally starting to establish a group of friends out here in L.A.  Well, I was anyway.  I did my typical thing recently where I fall off the radar completely for a few weeks and just ignore everyone.  But!  That’s irrelevant.  We were all hanging out in Silverlake a couple of weeks ago, (the fucking hipster capital of the world) and I was very proud of myself because I didn’t get too drunk and do anything stupid that would make me want to punch myself in the stomach over the next day.  One of the guys’ drove me back to my car at the end of the night.  I don’t know him too well because like I said, this is a sort of budding, newly established friend circle, but he and I have good “friend chem” and while yes, I would say I’m somewhat attracted to him, I could easily go on, just being strictly platonic friends.

He caught me off guard when, almost in the middle of our conversation, he boldly moved closer to me and said, “I want to see what you kiss like.”  I think I might have laughed out loud because it was so honest and such a “friend” way to start kissing.  I didn’t object because how could I?  It was such a hilariously awesome way to initiate a kiss, so I had to just go with it.

That’s the end of my story.  Nothing too insane happened after that.  We kissed for a minute, and then just continued conversing and hanging out.    At one point he did say, “It’s weird that I want to fuck you and talk to you.”  Which also made me laugh out loud.  Obviously, with boys these two notions do not always go hand in hand.

Dear Single Life,

Thanks for all of the great/awkward/hilarious/fucked-up/hot/unexpected experiences.

Love,

Caitlin

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