Tag Archives: travel

Costa Rica was Worth 3,500 Words

My trip to Costa Rica was mostly characterized by my crotch being constantly sore, spiked smoothies, bad hair and an Army of leaf-cutter ants that we greeted each time we came or left the house.  I’m fairly certain now more than ever, that if ants wanted to rule the world, they could.  As for my crotch, the soreness was due to zip lining harnesses, horseback riding and lots of biking.  And as for my hair… ladies, unless you have stick straight hair, just accept now that if you visit Costa Rica, your hair is going to suck.  I fully understand now why hair braiding is such a big thing there.

Since I can remember, my mom has never showed strong desires to travel.  I think she would like to more, but we don’t have much money, she works a lot and gets nervous easily.  Suddenly, she said that she wants to go to Costa Rica with her two daughters.  So Raven and I couldn’t really say no.  Neither of us had the money, but there I was, signing onto kayak.com, my familiar friend, to look up plane tickets while simultaneously googling images of mouth-breathers because Logan made the very good observation that all mouth-breathers look like aliens.

Raven and I decided we needed at least one other person for the trip who was more of Mom’s age.  We chose Carol and it’s the best decision we could have made.  To put it plainly, Carol and I are good at traveling and Raven and my mom kind of suck at it.  For example, after flying into San Jose, we needed to rent a car and drive 4.5 hours to the South Caribbean coast.  During this ordeal, I was driving and Carol was navigating while my mom was on drugs and unconscious in the backseat and Raven was listening to her headphones and probably fantasizing about becoming a Caribbean Princess.

*I really wanted to leave it at that because it’s funny, but I don’t want you thinking my Mom is a drug addict.  She had just taken some over the counter anti-nausea drug that rendered her incapable of anything.

For those of you planning on visiting the wonderful country of Costa Rica, I’m here to ease your anxiety about driving.  It wasn’t nearly as bad as I was expecting.  I was expecting the roads to resemble scenes out of Mad Max.  But it wasn’t that bad at all and it quickly reminded me of driving in downtown Los Angeles.  Once I realized that I was like oh, I got this, let’s hit it.

The drive from San Jose to Puerto Viejo was through the rainforest and it was breath taking.

We planned our departure time so that we would not be driving at night.  Well, that didn’t work out at all.  To our surprise, it gets dark their early.  All year round, it gets dark at 6:00pm.  That was kind of a buzz kill.  We thought we were in no rush, so we pulled off to get some grub.  It was some little local spot, and the food was pretty plain.  This was a good preview though of what the food would be like.  I wasn’t surprised.  I kind of figured that considering we were visiting a non-touristy area of what I consider to be a country somewhere between a Second and Third World, that the food wasn’t going to be a spectacle.  I was perfectly welcoming of that because I’m not a foodie and I hate when vacations become one giant food frenzy or when discussions of what restaurant to go for dinner becomes a thing.  Luckily, all of us are kind of like that.  Mom and Carol (with a combined weight of 180 pounds) probably ate four mangos and a handful of guacamole the entire time we were there, and Raven and I consumed mostly fresh eggs and homemade smoothies that I drowned in Sailor Jerry.  I recommend eating lots of fruit, the eggs, guacamole, ceviche and fresh bread.

img_5075

Raven embracing Third World life carrying fresh eggs and a pineapple while walking down a dirt road.

We stayed at a house that we found on Air B&B, and it was fantastic.  There was a small pool, the yard was its own mini rainforest, I ate breakfast every morning outside near the bird bath, and lounged in the hammock when I called home to Logan.  There was no hot water, no way to close the windows, no television, no air conditioning, temperamental plumbing and the power would go out for a few minutes everyday.  Those may sound like cons to you, but I friggen loved it.

First of all, you really don’t need hot water there.  It doesn’t get cold and the water is not cold, just cool; refreshing.  Same with the air conditioning.  You really don’t need it.  They have fans and they keep their homes completely open.  Our windows had no glass over them.  There was just screens to keep the bugs away, which was an absolute necessity.  Even with the screens, we got a few interesting insects inside and on the last night, a bat.  Sure, it can get pretty hot there, but they’re not a bunch of pansies and they just deal with it.  They are accepting of nature.  When it’s hot, that means they’re kind of hot!  Duh!  And what is wrong with that?  You couldn’t flush toilet paper (which was something I am very familiar with to due to touring, but something the rest of them had to get used to), and when the power goes out, the locals just wait it out and don’t have a damn meltdown like we do in the States.

So much of America, and similar cultures, are so out of touch with nature, it’s no wonder we are desensitized to destroying it.  When you live in a place like Costa Rica, where outside of your bathroom window as you take a shower, you can see the Rain Forest that is providing you with the water that is cleansing you, I would imagine that one might not take advantage of that resource so much.  When the mango tree and coconut tree in front of your home provides you with your lunch, you might not be so quick to not care about someone cutting it down.  When you can’t hide in air conditioning when it’s hot, you might think twice about sending your car exhaust fumes into the atmosphere.  If you give as much as you take, slow the fuck down, appreciate the simple life, you will ultimately be happier and healthier.  The Ticos (what the people of Costa Rica call themselves) seem to know no other way. #PuraVida

img_5066

#simplelife

Of course, one of the first things we did was visit the beach.  Some people assume that I’m not into the beach.  I’m not sure why.  Maybe because I wear mostly black and grey and I have a lot of tattoos?  But I actually love the beach.  I think the shore has magical healing powers.  The beaches in Costa Rica are gorgeous.  I’m sure you’re not surprised, but I felt compelled to state the obvious.  The forest went right up to the shore, which made for such a beautiful scene.  I jumped into the water a couple of times a day just because I could and the waves are fun.  At certain stretches of the shore the sand was completely black, which was a cool change of scenery for me because I come from Clearwater, where it has the whitest sand that I’ve ever come across.

img_5134

Black sand.

img_5127-1

Not sure why I am not laying on the towel.

dsc03265

Raven and I.

On one of the black sand beaches Raven and I met a dog that we fell in love with.  Neither of us are particularly dog people, but there was something about this dog because he chose us.  He passed by many other people laying on the beach, walked right up to us and just chilled.  If you’re a dog lover, you’ll like Puerto Viejo because there are wild dogs everywhere, but they are very friendly and not vicious in the slightest.

My Mom falling off of her bike, TWICE, was possibly the funniest thing that happened the entire trip.  The one road we lived off of was very bumpy, but still, that’s no excuse.  Grown people just don’t fall of bikes!  We only had three bikes on the first day, so I came up with the bright idea to ride Raven on the back of mine.  I didn’t make it more than a few yards before it became appallingly clear that idea was not going to work.  #ThirdWorldProblems

img_5125

lol.

Raven however, was impressive and somehow managed to ride very successfully with me on the back, my legs flailing around because I had no where to put them.  You should see the Ticos do it!  Seeing three people on one bike there is totally normal, and one time I saw four people on one bike!  A mom had one kid on the handle bars, one on the middle bar and one on the back.  #ThirdWorldSolutions

img_5115

That night Raven and I went to a bar called Hot Rocks.  We sat one some giant swings that they had and sipped on Imperial and watched some live entertainment.  It was kind of cool that their entertainment was fire dancers and hoola hoopers, instead of just a DJ or a cover band.  One of the performers was trying to get people on stage to follow along with her dancing.  Raven and I were not even a little bit buzzed, so that was just not going to happen… but it did.  The girl was desperate and no one else was getting up there, so we figured, fuck it.  With a few other brave souls, we followed along on stage doing what I’m assuming to be zumba.  The leader looked good, but we looked like assholes.  When I told Logan what went down, he said, “So basically it was like karaoke… but cardio.”  Yes!

Zip lining was the first major activity we did because that was what we were all the most excited for.  My mom sounded like a wild animal while she flew threw the canopy, Carol snapped pictures while simultaneously checking out the hot, mysterious man who was one of our guides.  Raven and I just looked absurd with our tiny spandex shorts and helmets on as we befriended the other guides.  They were all fun, and truly enhanced the experience.  After I snatched one of the radios out of one of the guide’s hand and shouted into it at the whoever it was on the other end who was incessantly talking about nothing important, “Can you shut up so Manuel here can focus on not letting me die,” they all laughed and encouraged me to say obnoxious things over the walkie-talkies for the remainder of the outing.   Zip lining is absolutely incredible and should be on every person’s bucket list.

dsc03216

Raven and Manuel

There were two things we witnessed that completely sum up Costa Rica to an outsider.  One, a mule walking down the dirt road, completely alone, at night, minding his own business as Raven and I rode back to the house after buying goofy Pura Vida souvenirs.  Second, was the sexy, mysterious guide who rode on the outside of the van up into the rain forest.  With all of us tourist, there was not enough space in the van, so of course he just rode on the outside of the van.  Because duh.  #CostaRica

The following night Raven and I went to Lazy Mon and I’d like to state here, that she is a TERRIBLE wing girl.  A wing girl should help you when you’re trying to talk to a boy, but should also help you when you’re NOT trying to talk to a boy.  I got stuck talking to this English dude and Raven might as well have been non-existent.  She was just sitting next to me not saying a word.  At that point, she was probably thinking about where she could get some ice cream.  After a solid hour of conversation, she finally chimed in.  And of all things, her topic of choice was Taco Bell’s verde sauce. The English dude and I were talking about environment, immigration and the misconceptions of latin food in America.  Somehow this led to Raven suddenly being alive again, and shouting, “Taco Bell doesn’t make verde sauce anymore!”  Jesus.  It was the most passionate I had seen her the entire vacation.  A close second being when we were making fun of a girl attempting to surf.

Mom was scared to go horseback riding, so me, Raven and Carol took the risk of leaving her alone, knowing full well that utter calamity could ensue.  Then the three of us met up with a tiny Tico man named, Raul, who guided us on a wonderful tour of the shores of Puerto Viejo and nearby paths through the forest.  It’s a good thing we took the risk, because I think Raul ended up being the best part of that trip.  He was born and raised in that tiny little town, so he had a lot of local knowledge to offer.  He was also the poster boy for healthy and happy simple living, along with encompassing the full spectrum of good character.  He happens to be a big fan of the Tampa Bay Ray’s, so once we got back to the States, I sent him a Rays baseball hat in the mail.  Who the hell knows if he ever got it because there, they don’t exactly have addresses.  Basically, you send the mail to the one post office and assume that at least one of the worker’s knows the name on the package/envelope, and hope they can get in touch with that person.  I am not kidding.  Raul’s address was, “Puerto Viejo, Limon, Costa Rica.”

img_5211

Princess Pendola (Raven) of course had the white horse.

img_5234-1

Raul

During the horseback riding adventure, we saw a big pack of Howler monkeys in the trees, and those motherfuckers are loud.  If you didn’t know better, you would honestly think that it was a lion or bear.  We also stopped and Raul picked coconuts off a tree for us, plucked the top out, and we drank fresh coconut water.  Coconut water is kind of trendy among health conscious hipsters right now, but I never liked it.  I tried all different brands because I felt like I should like it, but it tasted downright disgusting to me.  However, when I tried the REAL, fresh, coconut water from a real, fresh, friggen coconut, it was one of the best beverages I’ve ever had and I immediately felt my body thanking me.  I’m certain that all the Evil Queen from Snow White needed in her life to look and feel young again were some damn coconuts.  Adding vodka is also a fabulous idea, which they call “coco loco.”

img_5214

Carol and a coconut.

One thing that I would like to note for any potential travelers, is that you don’t really need to worry about being ripped off by the locals.  I can only speak for the town that we visited.  I’ve heard that if you visit more touristy areas of Costa Rica (mostly the West Coast) that it can be an issue.  In Puerto Viejo, we did not have to deal with aggressive vendors, beggars, or locals trying to take advantage of us.  The main road is lined with individuals selling mostly jewelry and hair braiding services.  The jewelry was beautiful, but I was a little bit hesitant at the beginning to approach the vendors because I didn’t want to deal with being harassed and feeling pressured to purchase, and wondering if I should try haggle.  Don’t try to haggle there.  Everything seemed to be a fair price and they are not trying to cheat you.  Not yet anyway.  Maybe once tourism infiltrates that town more, things will change.  But for now, it’s safe to assume that their products are a set price and no one is trying to cheat you.  Same goes for services.  Tours given by locals (such as Raul) were fairly priced and I felt that we could trust them.

When Raul presented us with coconuts during the horseback riding adventure, he informed us that coconut water cleanses the kidneys.  He noticed that I had a sparked interest in this, so we got to talking about natural remedies, and I informed him that my mother, who was the scaredy cat who was NOT with us, is very knowledgable about such things, and has been preaching this shit since before it was trendy, and when people probably just thought she was weird for not allowing me to have Jif peanut butter as a kid.  She was a lot more strict about health while I was growing up.  While Raven was growing up… Jif peanut butter and Honey Bunches of Oats definitely penetrated our pantry walls.  One of the best things that my mom has passed to me is nutritional knowledge.  Anyway, this discussion led to Raul telling me that a nearby Indian Reservation might be something that we would be interesting in seeing.

It was our last day, so we were being extremely selective when it came down to what activity to do.  We unanimously decided on calling Raul and having him show us the Reservation.  It was the best decision we made because I think it was the high point of the trip for all four of us.  I called Raul from the house, landline to landline, and he told me to pick him up at the bank at 10:00am.  Of course there is only one bank in Puerto Viejo, so that was all of the details that I needed.  He navigated and told us stories, as I drove us through the misty terrain, and came to a stop at a couple of huts on the edge of the forest.

img_5227

A Native family’s hut.

The people inside were just so nice.  They didn’t speak English, and very limited Spanish.  Raul spoke their language enough that he could communicate with them and translate well enough.  What I remember most are their smiles.  They all had beautiful smiles.  The second we pulled up, the tops of little human heads popped up into the “window” of their hut.  Just their eyes could be seen, but you could tell they were giggling and excited for visitors.  The kids were a little bit shy, in their hand-me-down clothes and bare feet, but they were sweet.  They picked star fruit for us and were welcoming to us white people exploiting them with flash photography and very many ooo’s and ah’s.  It did kind of make me sad.  They’re the spectacle on their own native land.  But those cries are for another day.

dsc03331

dsc03329

dsc03276

The man who seemed to be the leader of sorts, was the medicine man, and also “bird man.”  Apparently he is really good at imitating bird calls.  He took us into the forest, which is their backyard, and we didn’t go far, but within that small radius, there were so many of natures gifts.  He painted our nails with turmeric (which also helps to prevent cancer), we used achiote for lipstick and we learned that building a house with anything other than the bark from this palm that I can’t remember the name of is stupid because it’s virtually indestructible.  The skin of a cocoa plant stops bleeding and acts as a band-aid, they don’t need to buy Elmer’s glue because they’ve got glue trees.  Sour sap helps prevent cancer, sour cane cleanses the kidneys and young coconut water and star fruit lowers blood pressure.  And that’s what I learned in about fifteen minutes, so imagine the possibilities.  The moral of this part of the story is, get off all of your meds that you think that you need, and eat a fucking star fruit.  Oh, and respect the Earth.  Our society has somehow managed to forget that nature has ALL of the cures, but more so, all of the preventatives of sickness.  We are a product of nature you dimwits, so I think it’s common sense that everything we as humans need, we can get from nature.

img_5230

Bird Man

Somewhere along the way we have grown accustom to using Earth simply as a floor.  Why?  Why are we littering the planet with gatorade bottles and factory chemical waste when all we really should be doing is opening up a coconut?  It seems ironic, but mostly plain dumb, that we’re cutting down the rain forest to build the shit that it already provides.   Why are we giving our money to big companies that make us sick in the first place, and then give them more money to pretend to make us better?  Nature is your pharmacy!  But you can’t be an idiot!  Don’t eat like shit and not exercise your whole life and then be surprised when your body stops functioning properly.  You are a product of nature, and as such, can only survive off of nature.  Consuming synthetic crap and processed crap and expecting to be healthy would be like feeding a robot a salad and expecting it to function properly.

Well, thanks again for listening to my adventures and rants.  I hope you all find yourselves in Costa Rica someday, if you haven’t already been.  Peace, love and pure vida!

img_5268-1

All of us and a random dog.

Advertisements
Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Merch Girl Rant #3: Airport Etiquette for Dummies

Everyone suddenly turns into an asshole when at the airport.  Even people who seem to be able to function as an acceptable human being normally, turn into a god damn spaz when traveling.  They seem to lose all common sense, spatial awareness and cognitive abilities.  It’s incredible.  I travel a lot, so please learn from this and don’t be one of those people.

Let’s start at the beginning.  Just pulling up to the drop-off area at airports, and it suddenly looks like a traffic jam in India.  There is no regard for lane lines, there are whistles and people walking in front of cars and the same person who kindly let you over while you were merging onto the highway to get to the airport, is suddenly blaring his horn in your face and cutting you off because he is worried that he won’t make it to the curb in time.  Chill out you motherfucker!  I am not afraid of walking twenty extra yards, so I’ll move for you.  I swear that people don’t understand that the airport is one big building.  Surprise!  You can get to any part of the airport from inside the airport!  When pulling up to the drop-off/pick-up area, people seem to forget that just because you’re flying Delta, doesn’t mean that you can only be dropped off immediately in front of the Delta sign.  Don’t worry, this isn’t platform 9 3/4, it’s not going to magically disappear.  Drop people off wherever there is an opening, and hopefully they can manage to walk a few meters to the Delta check-in, you freaks.

Before arriving to the airport, have your damn ID in your pocket.  Duh!  In your purse does not count because as we all know, women’s purses are all like Mary Poppin’s purse; endless.  If I have to wait for you to dig around in your bag because you seem to be dumbfounded when security or the airline agents asks for your ID, then you are a fool and deserve the ugly stares that you’re going to get from me.  Oh, and I will probably cut you in line.

The touch screen at the check-in counters seem to be a problem for people and this also blows my mind because it’s people who are drowning their lives in various technological touch screen devices, so how is it that you suddenly can’t figure out how to use a touch screen when it asks you for your friggen name?

Then, we move onto one of my worst pet-peeves.  Escalators/moving sidewalks.  These machines were developed to get you from point A to point B faster.  They are not there to enable all you lazy assholes who apparently find walking to be a hassle.  I cannot wrap my mind around how unaware everyone is.  Do you not realize that a lot of people are in a damn hurry at the airport?!  Essentially, everything you do at the airport needs to be done in the quickest, most efficient way as possible because people are waiting.  Paying for something?  Grab your change and move to the side so someone else can pay while you fumble around with your wallet.  Have plenty of time to get to your gate?  Then move over to the mother fucking right, and let me pass you on the left on the escalator.  Common damn sense.

Pack light and tight.  When we get to the security point, I always avoid people with kids, old people and people with headphones on.  That’s all obvious, but you also got to watch out for the people who have a bunch of shit hanging off of them.  I’m sure you can picture it.  There are those who travel and they look like a damn mobile closet.  There are pillows wrapped around their necks, lanyards hanging out of pockets, straps just everywhere, blankets protruding from overstuffed bags and they are always trying to get away with having two carry-on’s.  It’s such a shitshow.  I should never have to wait for you to pull everything from crinkled up cash to loose Tylenol tablets from your pocket when we approach the x-ray machine.  Be prepared!  Do that BEFORE the last second.  Fucking, duh!  And you never need a neck pillow.  Unless it is over a five hour flight, then I might have some sympathy, but on those flights, the airline has pillows, just ask.  You are not going to be comfortable on a plane no matter what, so just suck it up and get out of my way.

The only person who is allowed to have a neck pillow is the wrestler because he has the kind that fold into a little case that he shoves into his suitcase.  He’s a pro traveler due to the whole being a pro wrestler thing.  Him and I recently discussed the art of traveling, and decided that we hate 90% of people at airports.

I think that the older you get, the more comfortable you are with yourself and the less you’re concerned with what other people might think of you.  This notion simply disappears when people get on planes.  I watch all these middle aged people suddenly turn into those anxious adolescence with pimply faces and awkward haircuts.  People get so fucking nervous about putting their stupid carry-on bag in the overhead compartments.  Jesus Christ, chill out.  The only reason why we’re all staring at you is because you suddenly started talking to yourself, you’re blushing and you’re being frantic over a damn suitcase.

Also concerning the overhead compartments, don’t be that asshole who puts your jacket or fucking beach tote bag up there until everyone is settled.  Wait until everyone has their REAL carry-on’s stowed away, and then if there is room, you can shove your floppy shit on top.

The worst people on planes are the ones with headphones on who have no regard for how loud their music is.  I’m sorry, I know you’re enjoying your tunes, but I should not be subjected to your shitty Pandora’s top 40 playlists.  If the person is sitting next to me, I absolutely ask them to turn their music down.  If the person is sitting more than a row away, I ask the flight attendant to ask them to turn it down.  And I don’t feel bad about it even a little bit.  NOT using headphones at all while watching videos is a recent practice that I’ve noticed people participating in since wifi on planes has become a thing.  Hell no.  I won’t even waste my linguistic energy on why that is 100% unacceptable.

I recently went to Costa Rica with my sister, mom and a family friend.  I’m typing in the living room and my sister is in the dining room wearing an oversized Tupac shirt and playing with her toenails.  I just yelled to her, “what were some of the dumb things that people were doing at the airport?” and without hesitation she just yelled back, “they were just not fucking walking!”  It made me laugh out loud.  This sort of falls into the the category of being spatially aware, and even if you’re not in a hurry, act like you are.  I cannot get over the amount of people who just stop walking in the middle of the damn walkways to look at their phone.  Would you do that in the middle of the highway?  No.  There is absolutely the same traffic flow in the airport, and you are fucking it up and causing a traffic jam.  Just as you would if you were on the highway, if you need to stop, veer over to the right.

I hope this helps you.  I’m considering printing this out into pamphlet form, and distributing them at my local airport.

Tagged , , , , , , ,

We Turned New Orlean’s into Our Bitch

I’d like to start this by letting you all know that Homeboy always seems to be ordering pink drinks, he is perpetually sunburnt, he does not take himself or anyone else seriously and he reads out loud every sign that he sees.  He is also the only real friend I made when I was living out in Los Angeles.  The only person who truly cared about me there, during a time when I had no one.  So needless to say, he holds a special place in my heart.  I had only seen Homeboy once since I left California, (3.5 years ago) and it was while I was on tour, so that doesn’t count because trying to see people while on tour is a nightmare and if you can make it happen at all, it generally consists of meeting for coffee for thirty minutes and apologizing for your hygiene.  So Homeboy and I decided to get serious, and meet up in New Orleans to hang out and catch up on some friend time.  He was the absolute perfect person to go to the Big Easy with.  We definitely kicked NOLA’s ass.  Cut to the shitshow.

The most important things that happened on the first day was that I possibly gave Monterey staph infection, and Homeboy and I found our bar.  Monterey is a good friend of mine who was a fellow roadie on the ballet tours.  I spoke about him in Adventures of Touring Christmas Edition, and beautifully enough, he now lives in New Orleans.  He picked us up from the airport, showed us a bunch of shit and made me the best gin gimlet of my life at the swanky restaurant/bar he works at in the Quarter.  I knew it would be fancy because they spell Revolution, R’evolution in the name.  Monterey just got surgery on his clavicle, so when he picked us up, he was sitting shirtless in his fucking yellow car that he stole from his Dad, and attempting to bandage up the wound with one arm, his seatbelt still on and simultaneously taking hits from his apple pipe and subjecting tourists to his loud easy listening alt-rock blaring from the car.

Monterey.


That pathetic little scene was oddly cute and endearing, so my empathy which usually stays dormant in the base of my cold heart, became active and rose to the surface.  I sat on the center console and gently bandaged Monterey up as he told us about the sink holes on Canal Street that had sparked a renegade “Sink Hole de Mayo” party on May 5th.  I think that Homeboy is probably STILL laughing at that.  He always laughs so hard at the most rudimentary of jokes.  Monterey did ask me if I had washed my hands recently, to which I said yes, but then realized that in between washing my hands thirty minutes ago and now, I had touched countless items which would be considered a germaphobe’s nightmare, including hotel remote controls, which is a rule straight from the fucking bible I feel like… to sanitize after coming in contact with hotel television remotes.  Whatever.  To my knowledge, his shoulder hasn’t disintegrated yet, so I consider my temporary nursing career a success.

That night Homeboy and I attempted to go to this bar/jazz lounge called Maple Leaf, which seems to be a well known establishment.  There was a line, and he and I are both way too pretentious for that, so we immediately said, “Nope,” and walked into the bar next door, which only had five people in it.  Much more my style.  At this point, even though we had only been in the city for approximately five hours, we had probably already had ten drinks each, and homeboy had STILL not figured out that New Orlean’s traditional cocktails are mostly not good.  He probably ordered something with SoCo in it.  I tried to steer him away, but he didn’t learn until the third day that I am always right when it comes to decisions involving liquor.  I know everyone feels like they have to have a Hurricane while in the Big Easy, but why?  Gross, sweet, syrupy drinks do not geographically discriminate.

In the Quarter.


By the end of the night we were feeling gangster, so we were sipping on gin and juice’s once we rolled into what would become “our bar.”  It was superbly sketchy, located on the controversial Lee Circle, and seemed like it was an old house that someone decided to chuck a bar into and the city just doesn’t give a shit.  Actually, New Orleans seems to have zero laws or permits when it comes to alcohol.  Love.  I call NOLA the Wild West.  You can basically do whatever you want.  From what I’ve observed, there is minimal infrastructure, laws are nominal, sewage is still something that civilians have to deal with, no one gives a shit about liabilities, the colors and architecture are unlike anywhere else and people sing and dance when they want to and it’s not weird.  Basically, in a lot of ways, New Orleans functions like a Second or Third World country.  People complain that it’s dirty… which it is, literally and metaphorically, but I thrive on filth.  The city seems to open its’ arms to all eccentricities, making it such a beautiful freak show.


Anyway, the only reason why we knew that our bar was a bar and not a house, was because there was a sign outside that simply said BAR.  That’s it.  I was immediately in love.  Then when I saw that they had Old Overholt Rye whiskey, and that they were heavy handed with it, I knew I was home sweet home.

The next day, Homeboy was having a rough time.  Too much gin.  I love gin, but I know to be cautious with it because gin is a terrible hangover, only second to wine.  I wasn’t exactly bright eyed and bushy tailed, but I chugged half of a warm beer in the morning and was ready to take the day head-on.  Homeboy high-fived me and said, “I’m impressed,” while he probably threw-up in his mouth a little bit just at the thought of drinking a beer for breakfast.  Monterey brought us to breakfast at a joint called Elizabeth’s, which I highly recommend, then we rolled up to a drive-thru daiquiri shop, and enjoyed taking a scenic route around town with alcoholic beverages and an apple pipe.  Wild West.  Then Homeboy and I went on a cemetery tour where we met Shiela, who was one of my favorite frumpy middle aged white women.  Maybe Homeboy and I were just drunk, but we were cracking up at a lot of what she was saying, while all of the other chumps stayed silent and smoked electronic cigarettes.  Other than the cemeteries being above ground, the other interesting thing is that multiple people are in the mausoleums, and not necessarily all family.  As Shiela put it, “you can shop around” for a tomb you like.  When a new casket goes in, the old one is taken out, the bones removed, and then thrown back in there, along with the new casket and all of the other bones.  It’s a damn party in those things!

Shiela!


That night we found a 24 hour gem called St. Charles Tavern.  A fair amount of bars are open 24 hours there, and what is also great is a lot of them seem to serve food and all of them have liquor because as I said, I don’t think a liquor license is a thing there.  I went full blown NOLA and got fried catfish and red beans and rice.  It was beautiful.  I don’t even remember what Homeboy got because I was busy having a love affair with my plate.  The next place we stumble upon was called Lucky’s Bar.  Honestly, I didn’t remember the name of it at first, but I just did a google map search and found “Lucky’s Bar: saloon with live music and laundromat.”  Yes!  I totally forgot that they had a full blown laundromat in the back!  Homeboy and I didn’t really understand what this meant, but we just chalked it up to “hashtag, NOLA” when we saw some early twenty-something year-old’s emerging from the back with laundry baskets and basketball shorts on.  The best hashtag NOLA thing we came across was a car parked literally in the middle of the road, just not giving a fuck.  Back to Lucky’s, we just thought we were sitting and having a drink at some random bar, but immediately after our drinks were poured, someone came to the mic and announced that it was stand-up comedy open mic night.  Homeboy and I looked at each other and started cracking up.  He does stand-up in Los Angeles, so of course, of all of the bars that we could have walked into, we go into that one.  Without words, it became crystal clear that he would HAVE to sign up.  So we stuck around there and he drank his weight in Hendrick’s gin and went up and did the best stand-up of the night.  Of course, we ended the night at our bar and then stumbling back into the hotel room where I forced him to listen to Jack White songs until we passed out.

The third day, and again, Homeboy was sucking at being a pro drinker.  He was not feeling great, but we still got up and went to Cafe Du Monde to get beignets and figure out our game plan.  We decided to walk for years, to go to the garden district.  I drank a beer on the walk and Homeboy got more sunburnt on the walk and then fell in love with a fucking cuban sandwich that he purchased at a corner store.  I swear that sandwich was his favorite part of the trip.  I just had another beer.  After a few more miles down the road, we ran into a Whole Foods and Homeboy made the executive decision that I needed to eat.  I like when guys kind of take control like that.  I wasn’t drunk or anything, but we had just walked six miles and I had only consumed a piece of friend dough, a beer for breakfast and a beer for lunch, so he basically made me get some vegetables into my world.  He was very right.  I immediately felt better.  He got Kombucha like such a white person.  This is in no way relevant to anything, but I just have to mention that there was an entire cooler for all of the different Kombucha’s.  There must have been at least 40 different flavors, and Homeboy picked the very last flavor I would have chosen.  It was some green bullshit with the word algae and living in the name.

IMG_4825

That damn cuban sandwich.

Later that night we finally made it to Bourbon O. so that Homeboy would shut the fuck up about meeting this guy named Eric.  One of Homeboy’s friends from Los Angeles is from New Orleans, and she told us that we should go visit her brother who works in the Quarter at a bar called Bourbon O.  Well, this was Homeboy’s number one mission.  I was down because whatever, it’s not like it was cramping my style or anything.  I just thought it was a potentially awkward confrontation.  Actually, I hoped that it would be awkward.  I pictured Homeboy walking in and saying to Eric, “I’m Punchy’s friend!” and Eric just being like, “cool, man” and then we just sit there looking at him like assholes.  That’s what I wanted to happen just because he had been talking this meeting up so much!  However, Eric turned out to be a cool motherfucker, and the bar turned into one of our favorite spots.  So, if you’re ever in New Orleans, give Eric at Bourbon O. a high five, drink one of their moscow mules (they make their own ginger beer and it’s the best I have ever had) and stick around and listen to the band because they had some of the best live jazz that we came across.

IMG_4856

Jazz at Bourbon O.

The next morning was when I turned into New Orlean’s bitch for over an hour.  I had passed out in my dress, and woke up needing to take a shower and wash my hair so I could begin functioning like a human again.  I needed stuff from a Walgreens or wherever to make that happen, so I just threw some sunglasses on (because I didn’t feel like taking the time to remove the eye crust and smeared eyeliner) and some ridiculous boot/sandal shoes and walked out the door, leaving Homeboy alone with his continental breakfast.  According to google maps, there was a CVS 0.2 miles away.  Perfect.  SOMEHOW this turned into an hour walk at 8:00 in the god damn morning while wearing a tiny dumb dress and my hair piled on my head like a friggen gypsy whore.  Once I realized how lost I was, I didn’t even care about the shower anymore, and just wanted to find a Daiquiri shop.  Turns out, I was in the only part of New Orlean’s that doen’t have a bar every fourteen feet.  I’m sure I was quite a spectacle for the construction workers that I kept passing due to my temporary inability to decipher North, South, East and West.

IMG_4832

I took a picture of my pathetic reflection.  8:00am HOT MESS.

After I got my life together, we walked out to Bywater, which is a neighborhood of New Orleans.  There, in essence, we bar hopped from dive bar to dive bar, but it was a great time.  Everyone we met was prime.  Other people might say, “everyone was so nice!”  To which… sure, everyone was nice, but normal nice can be kind of boring.  I mean, most people can be described as “nice” in one way or another, so that word is such a useless description, in my book.  People are much friendlier in the South, that’s a more effective description.  They want to talk to you and it’s not just an act or a means to get something they want from you.  The people in New Orleans are real and genuine and make visiting there such a good experience.

13310477_10204522376578963_2213770574556083075_n

Dive in Bywater.

That night we went to Frenchman Street, which is a congregated area of lots of bars with live music.  My Heaven.  I love jazz, but I love real Blues even more.  Like every big city, there is a lot of music, so you have to sift through the garbage to find the gems.  This is my field.  Live music shows is when I am in my element.  I took the reigns and found us a hole in the wall that had two men city in the corner with a slide guitar, a three piece drum kit and a microphone.  That’s it.  With just the combination of those three sounds, these guys pulled at my heart strings and stole me away.  I was good after that.  I let Homeboy make every decision from that point on because I felt completed in my New Orleans adventure after listening to twenty minutes of blues from two men in a moldy corner.

IMG_4834

Random mural near Frenchman Street.

The next morning, Monterey took me to breakfast again, and showed me the part of the city that had been hit the worst by the Katrina flooding.  Where full neighborhoods once were, there is a sporadic, obviously new house with solar panels.  In between those, there are rows and rows of empty lots with overgrown grass and the occasional stack of a few bricks from what was once a base for someone’s home.  The people and the city is still deeply effected by the disaster.  You see it everywhere.  Every local we spoke with, mentioned something about Katrina at least once in casual conversation.  Pre Katrina and Post Katrina are two very different periods to those who live in New Orleans.

It’s a remarkable city with a lot of history and if you have never been, definitely get your ass down to Louisiana.

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

2015 was Epic – Part 5

…continued from Part 4.

When we finally made it to Sofia, it was past midnight and the train station was closed, despite the arrival of trains.  You may be thinking that this means that the vendors are closed up and the ticket windows are dark.  What it means in Bulgaria is that ALL of the lights are off, all of the informative signs have been put away, there are zero employees and if someone stabs you, you will die because no one will find you until the morning.  If our trip was depicted in a cartoon, this would be the part when a tumbleweed blows by.

Maybe six other people got off the train with us and they seemed to know the route, so we just followed them with our fingers crossed.  We quickly realized that we were underground as we marched through this sketchy tunnel that immediately gave me the feeling of being led to a gas chamber.  Once we made it to open air without having our organs removed and sold to the black market, we were immediately met by robust men repeating “taxi” like they had Tourettes.

*Traveling Tip: Never use the cab drivers that are at the train stations.  Walk a few blocks away and pick up a cab, then make sure that they turn the meter on.  When possible, have the hostel arrange a taxi pick-up for you.

We said no to the taxi men, but I will admit that these mother-fuckers were pretty intimidating.  When you imagine a Bulgarian, that’s exactly how they were.  Those dudes had definitely cut off a finger or two in their time.  Possibly ripped out a human heart with their bare hands.  We hadn’t arranged for a place to stay in Sofia because it was a sort of last minute change of plans.  We spotted a Marriott sign off in the distance, so the three of us, and all of the wild fucking dogs, walked toward the light.

What stuck with me was how dark the city was.  In Romania and Bulgaria, when the people are asleep, the city is not only asleep, but it feels like a ghost town.  Insert tumbleweed again.  This was not the case so much in Budapest and Istanbul, but those are much bigger cities and have much more tourism.  That might sound scary, and at first, it kind of was nerve-racking walking around in the dead of night with no lights and little signs of human life.  But I very quickly grew to love it.  They don’t waste resources!  It’s a beautiful thing.  Even in the hotel, you had to insert your key card into the light switch to enable it to turn on.  Meaning, you can’t leave the lights on.

It’s not just electricity, it’s all resources.  They don’t blindly waste them the way we do in the First World.  I bet you would rarely see someone running water in Bulgaria and Romania to wash dishes.  They probably all fill a bowl with soapy water and then just use that.  And they aren’t obsessed with everything being disposable or convenient.  At the grocery store there were no bags.  “Paper or plastic?” is not a phrase that you hear there.  Bags were not at all available.  It was incredible.  I would stoked because I’m a hippie.  Well, my friends unfortunately call me that, but I just call it being right and smart.  How fucking hard is it to just bring your own bags to the grocery store?  Or cut your own damn apple?  When I see shit like apples pre-cut, so they need to be put in a plastic container that will immediately be thrown away, I get pissed.  When did we become such lazy assholes that we would rather suffocate the planet with plastic instead of simply cutting an apple, or god forbid, eat it straight?  When did we start believing that we are superior to the Earth?  I would LOVE to move to a Second World country so that I can contribute to a society that has common sense.

Pardon the rant.  Back to the hotel, which was dirty and dingy and just sad.  The hostels that we stayed at for approximately $12 USD a night, were WAY better.  I have no idea why people have such an aversion to hostels.  I think because of that damn movie.  Forget about that horror movie!  That would be like watching a zombie movie, and then being scared that every person you come across who coughs, may be infected with a ficticious zombie virus.

We only had the following afternoon in Bulgaria because we wanted to make sure to get four full days in Istanbul, which was the next and final stop.  Raven and I decided this would be a perfect day to get tattoos since we didn’t have time to do any real sightseeing.  I researched tattoo shops while Fat Face and Raven went back and forth showing each other funny videos on Vine, or whatever the hell it’s called, and I brainstormed on a design while she popped blackheads.

When we got to the shop, I explained that we just wanted a simple side view of a train and that we didn’t have much time because ironically, we had to be on a train in a few hours.  Our artist walked right over to us, squatted down on the floor and started sketching a little train.  It was really cool and unpretentious of him.  He, along with all of the people that we crossed paths with in Sofia were friendly and lively.  Very different from Bucharest, so it left us wondering why all of the Eastern European natives were telling us to do Bucharest instead of Sofia.

We got onto another fucking train, and headed East to Turkey.  Our experience on that train is a prime example of how travelers just have no idea of what is going on.  Before the border, we were cattled off of the train and wrangled into a concrete room that had border patrol men who didn’t even a little bit pretend to give a shit about our visas, and then we stood around for what I would guess was two hours, having no idea what in the hell was going on.  We were expecting to get on a train in Sofia and then get off in Istanbul.  Of course it was not that simple.  Smuggling Syrian refugees was involved as well as peeing in a hole in the ground… so stay tuned!

IMG_3128

Fat Face.  lol.

Tagged , , , , , , ,

2015 was Epic – Part 4

If you are just tuning in, please see Part 2, where our backpacking adventure started.

When I left of in Part 3, myself, my sister Raven and Fat Face were leaving Sibui, Romania (the Transylvania region) and heading toward Bucharest, the capital.  The main reason why I personally wanted to experience Eastern Europe was because I am fascinated by post Communist countries and envy Second World countries because they don’t take resources for granted, they are as baffled by capitalism as I am, and if you fall it’s your fault and you can’t sue someone because it rained and the sidewalk is wet.  Those characteristics somewhat define Eastern Europe and that’s why I am so drawn to it.

IMG_3088 (1)

A giant hold in the middle of the walkway.  An example of Romania giving zero fucks about liability.

With that being said, Bucharest was the only city that all three of us didn’t like.  For me, it happened to also be the city that provided the most insight and was a true learning experience because I would say that we were the most out of our element there. During this backpacking adventure, the three of us discovered that our favorite thing to do was to rent bikes.  We kept up the tradition and rented some in Bucharest.  We were riding around for maybe thirty minutes, and I found myself in this funk!  Out of nowhere I was depressed and at first, thought it was possible symptoms of PMS.  But then I noticed that Fat Face and Raven were the same.  Just by riding our bikes around the city we were all immediately sad for reasons that we couldn’t explain.  I later did some mild musing on the subject while Raven listened to Rihanna on her headphones and Fat Face created memes.  I theorized that our mood was due to the bleakness of the city.  There are no colors there.  At all.  The buildings, the clothing, the cars… everything seems to be this monochromatic tone of grey.  There was an occasional splash of color on a sign advertising an H&M or something, but that seemed even more depressing to me.  It was clear evidence of the city attempting to rid themselves of their oppressive past and conform to Western culture.  It felt contrived, not encouraging.  I will say however, that one of the best things I’ve ever eaten was in Bucharest.  It was essentially a hot pocket, but if hot pockets were good… and then add an orgasm.

*Side Note: Vegetarians, Vegans, Gluten-freers, Atkiners and actually anyone on any high maintenance First World diet, Eastern Europe may not be the place for you.  It’s a lot of meat, cheese and bread.  Just embrace it.  Love, a former vegetarian.

If I had to sum up Bucharest in one sentence, I would say that the people and the places all look like something that was beautiful once, but isn’t anymore.  The big “city center” had this giant fountain that stretched for blocks, with mosaic tiling on the floor and built in lights to illuminate the dancing water.  However, the fountain was not functional anymore, the mosaic tiling was littered with dead leaves, the water had long been dried up and the lights were broken.  The people were the same.  Everyone we passed looked worn and bruised and broken.  Mainstream cultural vibrancy was still dead though it seemed as if the city was attempting to fool you.  It felt like an outcast kid in middle school, trying to fit in with the cool kids crowd.  If that outcast kid were just himself, he’d be great, but he is using all of his energy on trying to convince everyone that he is something that he is not.  In an attempt to conform, his true beauty and uniquely perfect identity gets lost along the way.  What I’m getting at is, Eastern Europe tries very hard to rid itself of its’ oppressive past, but in Bucharest, the reminisce of oppression is very present.  I think that if they stopped trying to Westernize themselves, their true beauty would shine through.

IMG_3146

This is the only picture I took outside of the hostel in Bucharest.  There was very little obvious beauty, so I took this to try to capture the grey bleakness.

Luckily, the hostel that we stayed at in Bucharest, Doors Hostel, was the best hostel of the trip.  After three hours of attempting to explore the city and then wanting to slit our wrists  instead, we decided that making the most of Bucharest may mean just staying at the hostel.  So we spent a lot of time there, hanging out in their tea garden and chatting it up with an employee who looked like a character from a Tim Burton movie.  She had huge sunken eyes, wispy hair, porcelain skin and was heroin-chic skinny.  Fat Face was feeling her because they had similar music taste.  I was feeling her because she gave us shots of Palinka.  Plus, she was friggen cool.  If you find yourself in Bucharest, give Danielle at Doors Hostel a high five.

IMG_3136

Me failing at taking a selfie in the “tea garden” at the hostel.  

We did manage to have a good time at a bar called Control.  It was a walk up bar which immediately made us feel more comfortable because that is the norm in the States, but almost unheard of in Europe.  You don’t sit at a bar in bars in Europe.  Whoa, that was a tough sentence.  Anyway, we discovered that you’re expected to just grab a table and then a server will eventually come to you.  Eventually being the key word.  It requires a lot more time and effort to get drunk in other parts of the world.  (Australia was the same way and I discuss that trip in Part 1).

As much as I bitch about America, fucking high-five to us for producing the most efficient way of consuming a lot of alcohol quickly and at low prices.  In Europe and Australia, your drink could be empty for an hour and no one gives a fuck.  Servers will rarely approach you to see if you would like another drink.  In the States it’s kind of rude to flag down your waiter, but I learned that it is acceptable and expected in the not so touristy areas of Europe.  Still, after flagging down a server, it takes a hot minute before you actually receive your drink, and by then, you’ve sobered up and are over it.  Also, if you’re drinking liquor, their standard pours are only one ounce (about 28 grams for those of you who aren’t on our retarded system of measurement) but almost double the price compared to America.  I would need to order a quadruple shot at a time if I had any intention of even getting a buzz… but that’s not very cost efficient and the drinks aren’t served quickly enough to cross the “fuck money” threshold.  Even if I ordered a double, I would probably have to plan to chill on that for two hours because in Eastern Europe, two hours in the hospitality industry seems to be the equivalent to ten minutes in America’s hospitality service.

To get to Istanbul from Bucharest by train, we had to stop in Sofia, Bulgaria.  Like I said before, the trains have absolutely no indication of what city/station they are at, and there is no PA system.  On top of this, the trains will often stop en route for no reason that is evident to the passnegers, so you never know if you’re at a real stop, or a psych! stop.  Everyone just silently looks around to see if anyone else is getting off.  I swear to God, that’s how it works.  And if you do get off at the fake-out stop, there is absolutely no workers around to tell you that your Made in China Vans are not going to hold up during your trek to the next train station which is miles away.

*See Part 3 for a little more insight on the E. Europe trains.

IMG_3189

A skeleton train.

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

2015 was Epic – Part 3

As I left off in part 2, the day that we were scheduled to leave Budapest, was the day that thousands of refugees flooded the train stations.  We decided to stay in Budapest for another night.  One, because Raven became obsessed with the corndogs there.  Two, we didn’t want to attempt to deal with the train stations.  Three, B (the Hungarian merch guy I mentioned before that I knew) owns a club, and he was having a party there that he invited us to.  Four, B introduced us to Palinka, a Hungarian liquor that was so good that we felt it deserved another day of our company.

The club party thing was very interesting.  For the most part, it seemed like typical clubs that we know.  There was loud music, children dancing (Fat Face and I were easily the oldest two in the establishment at a whopping 28 years old), flashy lights, people making out in corners and everyone sweating and abusing substances.  Typical.  The interesting part however, was that almost all of the people seemed to know the same choreography to every fucking song that came on.  You know how everyone knows the steps to the Macarena and the Electric Slide?  That’s kind of how this was, only it was every single song that came on and choreography that far exceeded the skills of the Electric Slide.  I have always wished that life was like a musical when at each plot advancement, everyone within proximity magically knows all of the same songs and choreography.  Well, that’s how I felt at this club in Budapest, except me, Raven and Fat Face seemed to be the only ones not in on the magical musical.  That was our last night in Budapest.

The next day, we would learn that traveling by train in Eastern Europe is nothing like traveling by train in Western Europe.  People kept telling us how accommodating and fast the trains are.  No.  They were basing these statements on experiences in all of the Western countries of Europe.  I like to think that we had a more “adventurous” experience, though Raven and Fat Face would probably just say, “No Cait, those trains just sucked.”

We arrived at the main train station, and there were plenty of news vans and whatnot; people covering the story of the Syrian refugees being held up in Hungary.  The Hungarians aren’t fucking around with the refugees, so they refuse to take them in or even acknowledge them until absolutely necessary.  On this day, it became absolutely necessary.  There were so many Syrians at the train station, that hundreds of them that morning started WALKING to Austria.  I remember that B had a hard time getting to us because he said that the highways were shutdown because these motherfuckers just straight up started walking to the border.  Which at its’ CLOSEST, is over 200 km away (about 130 miles) by the way.  After a day, Hungary realized that they had to do something, so they bussed two thousand refugees from the train stations to the Austrian border and then basically said, peace out.

IMG_3067

Main train station in Budapest.

 

IMG_3066

Raven and Fat Face waiting for the train.

Judging from the American media, you would think that it was absolute mayhem at these train stations.  But it wasn’t at all.  Sure, there were a lot of people there, but it wasn’t the chaos that the media would like to scare you into believing so that you keep watching their news and drive their ratings up.  It was really quite calm.  Mostly, people were just sitting and waiting.  Trains were cancelled, but in no way was it pandemonium.  What really left an impression on me however, was the amount of people I saw leaving the train station carrying literally nothing.  Not even a plastic bag.  I cannot even comprehend leaving for a sleepover without a backpack.  Please, take a break right here, and for a few moments, try to imagine leaving your life, your country, everything you know with literally nothing in your hands…

Holy shit, is all I can say about that.  I know that she doesn’t appreciate it now, but I did turn to my sister and say, “Do you realize that this will be written about in history books?  And we are here for it.”  She is 20 and mostly cares about Instagram but hopefully she will appreciate it someday.

IMG_3117

Raven not giving a fuck as she picks her nose in a bar while playing Scrabble.  Then there’s Fat Face with that damn headband that he was 100% serious about, by the way.

After a couple of minor set backs, we were on a train to Sibiu, Romania.  We grossly underestimated how much travel time would go into our trip.  The trains seem to be going approximately the same speed that I jog, and they stop every four and a half seconds with no explanation.  There is no PA system on these things, so when the train stops in the middle of no where and nothing happens, there is no one coming on the intercom to tell you what the fucking deal is.  You just wait.  On top of this, we don’t speak the language, so it’s not like a PA system would have helped anyway, but we could have tried to ask someone.  Another thing that makes traveling by train in Eastern Europe tricky, is that without the PA system, you never know what the hell city or stop you’re at.  You would think that these train stations would have signs saying what the name of the damn station is, or the city or SOMETHING!  Nope!  Most of these “stations” are more of what I would call a shelter.  They are mostly open air with a platform and a grumpy lady behind plexiglass selling the tickets.  If she doesn’t show up for work that day, I doubt they sell tickets that day and you would just be shit out of luck.  I found it amazing that these trains were even running.  Other than the main station in Budapest, we rarely saw any personnel.  But there were plenty of wild dogs.  We would learn that you know you’re out of the First World when the cities have a bunch of wild dogs.  I didn’t understand this at first.  I asked Fat Face, “What is it that they do different?  Why don’t we have a bunch of dogs roaming around in the States?”  And he knew the answer which was so completely obvious… we have pounds in the states and we round them up and kill them.  Second and Third World countries don’t have that type of infrastructure.

Back to never knowing where we were, we honestly guessed when it was time to get off of the trains.  We figured that we were mostly hitting up the bigger stops, so when everyone else gets off, that is when we will too.  Another funny thing about the train stations is that when you step off of the trains, unless it is the first track, a lot of times you’re just walking across the tracks, there are no platforms or walkways or anything.  I love that kind of stuff.  To me, it makes you feel more alive and more in touch with your surroundings.  Raven on the other hand, was just concerned with getting these train stations over with so she could find a shower and wifi, and Fat Face was probably daydreaming and playing with his gross mustache.

IMG_3125

Again, Raven not giving a fuck.  We were sitting on the train platform, waiting for a train and Rave is leaning back on her backpack and holding a peach that she was pissed about because it turned out to be moldy.

The trains don’t have toilet paper, and we learned that it is train etiquette to only use the toilet when the train is moving and away from any stations because there are no tanks to hold your waste.  Sexy.  The hole at the bottom of the toilet just empties to the ground.  The first train we took from Budapest to Sibiu was an overnight train, so we arrived hours before we were allowed to check into the hostel.  The hostels are all so surprisingly accommodating and always allow you to leave your bags even if you haven’t checked in yet.  It was 7:00 in the morning and we were in the middle of Transylvania and nothing was open except for gypsy panhandling.  I think the first human we ran into was a couple of little gypsy girls trying to get money from us.  I am a cunt and never gave them any money, and neither did Fat Face or Raven… except for one time, but she learned her lesson.  After being harassed by the cute little blonde eight year old gypsy with her pink pants and adorable smile for a couple of days, Raven gave her a two lire coin.  The little girl then suddenly spoke English (which she never eluded to prior) and said, “five.”  Raven LITERALLY pushed the girl away on her shoulder and said, “Noooo!” and the girl simply said, “okay okay” with her sweet smile and ran off.  Raven was pissed that she got played, but she was laughing about it.  So the gypsies in Romania… that seems to be a real thing.  Not nearly as glamorous as the stories elude though, they just send their tiny kids to the cities to beg for money.

IMG_3388

Us with the little gypsy girl.

Immediately next door to the hostel was a little cafe that had its’ door cracked open.  We assumed that that meant that they were open, so we walked in and sat down to order some coffee and breakfast.  Our delicious lattes were made, and then when we went to order food, the very handsome man informed us that they were not open for another half hour.  He was just being nice by letting us come in early.  Of course, this turned into our spot.  It was called Lillie’s and I probably went there three times a day because it had everything.  It had coffee, alcohol, food and wifi.  That’s considered a goldmine when you’re backpacking.  AND the owner was a hot man with salt and pepper hair and spoke very good English so Raven and I had a crush on him.  If I am ever in a position to take time away to just write, I would totally move to Sibiu for six months and go to Lillie’s everyday.  The little town would be perfect for writing or any type of art for that matter.  It’s small and quant, so there are not a bunch of distractions, and it’s beautiful, so it’s inspiring.

 

IMG_3389

IMG_310912042760_581685008432_2978005235939908749_n

We rented bikes again and found an overgrown rugby field that we did handstands in and climbed up the makeshift bleachers.  Makeshift being the important word in that sentence, because they were actually just two concrete slabs and then a metal standing rectangle thing that you could climb up.  Fat Face found a bow and arrow that was obviously crafted by children, so we played around with that for a while too.  Fat Face was surprisingly talented with it.  Maybe he should get into archery.

12036735_581684574302_2363616598946090984_n

 

 

 

12038052_581684679092_953895906422639622_n

The bleachers.

 

IMG_3101IMG_3113

It made me envy the simple life.  Kids there still play outside and people aren’t in such a damn rush and families stick together and they aren’t constantly wanting more.  In Sibiu, the way of life seemed to be, you’re born, you live in a way that you give as much as you take, and then you die.  Simple as that.  They don’t seem to have these existential questions and fascinations the way we do in the States and other First World countries where we are all into psychology, finding meaning, career success, etc.  Probably because they don’t have the luxury to do that.  They have chickens to attend to, water to boil, a fence to fix and a kid to bathe.  Maybe that’s partly where the former oppression comes into play.  These countries were in Communist rule not too long ago, so maybe these people just don’t strive for more all of the time because it has never been an option for them and they don’t question much because they were never allowed to.

Next stop, Bucharest.

IMG_3073

Had to add this… this is Fat Face concentrating on NOT throwing-up.

 

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

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.

IMG_2830

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.

12009789_581683371712_3324554359849440879_n

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.

IMG_2861

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Merch Girl Rant #2

I thought I was going to start this entry by bitching about the absolutely mind boggling stupidity of the merch customers that I deal with every night.  However, I had the unpleasant experience of being back at Warehouse Live in Houston, Texas this week.  I hate that fucking venue.  I have unfortunately been there before, which is not uncommon in the touring world.  You end up frequenting a lot of the same venues across the country.  I swear that I must go to the Agora Theatre in Cleveland every time I’m on tour.  At least it’s a good venue.  The only good thing about Cleveland, by the way.

Many of the venues that I go to are pretty divey and rough to say the least.  They do their best with what they’ve got though, and for the most part, try to make you as comfortable as possible.  And I love dives!  I live in shitty dive bars and venues and I feel right at home.  Needless to say, I am not high maintenance at all when it comes to venues.  I usually spend my time sitting on the floor counting shirts anyway.  I don’t get irritated when there is not a shower, I don’t get mad when there are stairs for a load-in and I couldn’t care less about catering or the rider.  I only care about common courtesy.  When a band is coming to play at your establishment, at least have the respect to remove old moldy hair from the shower drain, and spend the $10 to purchase a new shower curtain once it becomes ridden with enough mold to give me a fungus infection.  Today’s venue had that, plus the most disgusting couches I think I have ever seen in the greenroom.  The carpet had those black gum stains that have been there for at least twenty years, and the smell… it smelled like the holocaust inside.  What are we supposed to do with that?

The merch area had to-go containers of left-over food in it and other random pieces of garbage.  The local crew was a joke.  It was the slowest load-out we’ve ever had on this tour, and the man settling merch with me had a massive attitude, to which I of course, put into check.  Usually, the venue takes a cut of the merch sales.  It’s ridiculous, but it happens.  20% of the cloth sales (meaning they don’t take on media/CD sales) is typical.  I think that’s bullshit.  I can understand 10%, just because they’re providing you with a place to sell, but that’s all they provide.  Usually they don’t help with merch at all, and the person who is settling with you shows up at the very end saying, “you’ll be settling with me and the cut is 80/20.”  Oh, hello.  Where have you been all night?  It would have been nice to know of your existance when I needed change or when I had to pee and there was no one around to keep an eye on the table.

I told one of the house managers at the venue how I felt.  I was so irritated by the end of the night and basically told him that they need to take a little pride in their establishment and have some respect for the people who are coming to put on an event that day.  I said that it’s just plain rude to make us work in an environment like this.  I don’t think he gave a shit, because I’m just the merch girl, but at least I felt a little bit better for getting it off my chest.

Now, onto the fun part of the rant.  The customers.  How is it that you’re a grown man and you do not know your shirt size?  A regular fucking t-shirt, when I ask what size, how is it possible that you look at me dumbfounded?  Like that question has never entered your mind at any point in your life.  Then!  I tell them their size, because I can tell by looking, and they proceed to say, “No… let me see an extra large.”  I get them the XL and then they hold it up, say it’s too big, and THEN agree with my assessment that they are a large.  Thank you for wasting my time, now go away.  Always trust your merch girl.  The boy with the white hair said that I should make stickers with that slogan.

On this run, I have a lot of different shirt designs, so they are all labeled with little signs I have made.  For example, one shirt is labeled “Mosh $25” another says “Green $25.”  I swear to God that I only get maybe two customers a night who actually read the fucking signs and call the shirt by the appropriate name.  Everyone else says, “can I have that shirt?”  And they barely point, it’s mostly an ambiguous hand motion.

“Which one?”  I ask.  Then they point a little bit better, but they are still quite a distance from the display, and there are ten shirts all lined up side by side, so it’s hard to tell which one they are pointing at, which is why I take the god damn time to label them!  “The one that says mosh on it?” I ask.

“Yeah, yeah.”

“What size?”  Blank stare.  Jesus Christ.

Right before doors open, the merch boy who works for the other band on the tour looks at me, takes a deep breath and says, “ready for four hours of stupid questions?”  He is so right.  It is truly unbelievable the stuff we hear.  If I could set up a camera in the merch booth, that shit would go viral.  We sometimes  get the fanboys who treat the shirts like they are the actual band members.

“Oh man!  Look at that one!  That is so sick dude!”  And they high five each other and then notice the hats  I have on the table, “Oh shit!  Look at the hats!  You got to get one man, that is so cool.”  Then they fucking high five again.  Once I am able to snap them out of being star struck over t-shirts, and am able to actually get them to make some decisions so I can get through this line that has been steadily increasing during the ten minutes that they have diddle daddled around like little girls at a prom dress shop, then they continue to stare at the shirts, even though they have already made their purchase and even though they have already spent ten minutes staring at ten of the same shirts.  You would think that the shirts have LED screens in them with a sports game playing.  It’s unbelievable.  Then I tell them to get the fuck out of the way so I can do my job.  I don’t say that, but I wish I could.  I’m only pretend nice for the sake of the bands I work for and I try to be professional.  So the assholes move over five feet, and then AGAIN hold up their shirts that they just bought, and giggle.  They look at the tour dates on the back, find the date for that particular night, point at it and say to one another, “there it is, man!”  Then they high five again, and if I’m lucky, then they’re out of my life forever.  Usually not though, usually these types find their way up to the merch booth a couple of more times a night.  It’s absurd.

Then I get the guys who continually ask me the same fucking question multiple times a night.  “Can I get that shirt in a large?”

“Sorry, we are out of that one in large.  I have medium or XL, or I’ve got large in the other designs.”

“You don’t have that shirt in large?” they say again.

“No, sorry, man.”

“Are you sure?”  They’ll ask as they look over the table, where all of the shirts are stocked.  Why the fuck would I lie to you about that?  It is not in my best interest in any way to not give you a shirt you damn moron.  “You got any in the back?”  Um… this isn’t Macy’s.

“No, there’s none in the trailer.”  Then they come back ten minutes later asking if I got any more shirts.  Yeah man, I got a fucking UPS delivery between now and when you asked me ten minutes ago.  Then, they will come back at the end of the night, thinking that I won’t remember them, and casually say, “Can I get that shirt in large?”  They think I’m purposely witholding from them or something.  What I want to say is, “I still don’t have that mother fucking t-shirt in a god damn large you annoying asshole!  Trust me, if I did, I would have happily given it to you with haste, so that I never have to talk to you ever again.”

Another absolutely amazing question I get all of the time is, “Which shirt has the tour dates on them?”  I never really know how to respond to that question because my display displays all of the backs of the shirts, and I currently have about six shirts with tour dates on the back.  So over half of my display is a sea of tour dates.  First, I honestly look into their eyes to make sure that they’re not blind and that I’m not about to be semi condescending to a disabled person.  When I deduce that they are not in fact blind, which they never are, I just kind of wave my arm across the entire display and say, “all of the ones that you see with tour dates on them, have the tour dates on them.”  I mean honestly, how in the hell else am I suppose to answer that question?!

Now let’s move on to the girl shirts.  The girly shirt is labeled “Girly” and it is clearly tapered in a girly form fitting way and it’s purple.  When a man is asking for a girly shirt, I want to believe that he is being nice and buying one for his girlfriend or daughter or something, but I know better than to assume that these people are not being stupid, so I always like to clarify.  Nine times out of ten, they didn’t fucking realize that the small purple shirt labeled “girly” is in fact for girls.

You’re probably thinking that these types of occurrences only happen a few times a night.  No.  I promise you, that only a few times a night, does it NOT happen.  I am not exaggerating when I tell you that maybe two to four people  a night do not ask me something stupid.  I love these people.  And if he’s cute, I’ll go as far as giving him a $5 discount, just so that I can award good behavior.  They usually end up giving it back to me as a tip, so it works out.  The stupidity levels vary from scene to scene.  The metal heads seem to be the dumbest.  Surprisingly, the black metal scene has the most competent fan base.  This is one of the reasons why working for the black metal band that I tour with is my favorite band to work for.  They’re great people, and also the people who come to their shows I can relate to on a human level, instead of being onslaught by stupidity all night long.  Black metal fans are usually Satanist, so maybe that has something to do with it.  You have to be at least mildly competent to be a Satanist because it usually requires some analyzing and research.

If you are reading this and go to shows often, please be one of the people who walks up and simply says, “The mosh shirt in medium, please.”  And have your money ready.  Us merch people love people like you.  And use cash.  Yes, we do normally accept credit cards, but they’re a pain in the ass and slows everything down and credit cards are just not very rock and roll.  You’re going to a metal show, have some damn cash on you for christ’s sake.

Rant complete.  For now.

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Post Tour Blues – Report 2 of 2

…continued from Report 1.

Finally being able to have some privacy keeps you isolated as well.  Even if you live with someone else, compared to road life, the amount of privacy you are suddenly allowed is a shock.  We tend to try to take advantage of this, which also keeps us isolated and susceptible to PTB.

One of the things that you really need to adapt to on the road is the lack of privacy, which I have discussed in the past.  Everyone knows when you poop, everyone knows what you look like in the morning, everyone knows how many times in a row you’ve worn the same shirt without washing it.  Everyone knows when you’re upset, everyone knows what your underwear looks like because you often consolidate, and do each other’s laundry.  Basically, everyone knows everything.  It’s like having 11 live-in boyfriends/girlfriends.  Yes, this can sometimes be a nightmare, but it can also sometimes be the most at home you’ll ever feel.  You and your bus-mates become a little fucked up family.  To add to this, it is a constant friggen peanut gallery.

On the road, I cannot do something as mundane as eat a saltine cracker without someone making a comment about it.  I cannot stand how everyone feels the need to ask what you’re eating every fucking time you put something in your mouth.  This isn’t a tour thing, but it’s just enhanced on tour because someone is always around.  I can be eating out of a chip bag that is the size of my torso and at least one person will say, “what you got there?”

I usually don’t respond.  I will just sit there, six inches from someone, and blatantly not respond to their inane question.  People must think I’m either nuts or just an extreme bitch, both of which I will not dispute.  If I opened my mouth I would end up saying, “Unless you went blind between now and the last time I saw you five minutes ago, I think it’s obvious that I am eating some chili lime flavored Lay’s.  Is there something so fascinating about this that propels you to ask such an annoying rhetorical question?”  Instead of saying all that, I just ignore the person.

I know that I have referred to Wal-mart run’s before, but I’m not sure that I have ever fully explained what they entail.  I think it’s obvious that it means that the bus stops at Wal-mart, but this almost always happens at 2:00 in the morning, after a show and approximately every 5-7 days.  Mostly we get groceries, but it is also your one opportunity to get everything that you need.  So, if I need to buy tampons or underwear (in the case that I haven’t been able to do laundry in years) this is my time to do all of that, so sometimes you just need some damn privacy while running this errand.

Often though, 0069 ends up sharing a cart with me and we end up rolling down the aisles on the grocery carts like they are sports equipment, and then playing bumper carts with at least one of the other crew/band members instead of being productive during this errand.  I think Jackhammer and I played a brief game of hockey using a can of pigs feet as a puck in the canned meats aisle.

2:00am Wal-mart run!  This is us NOT being productive.

2:00am Wal-mart run! This is us NOT being productive.

We really did need groceries and thermal shirts, but somehow this is what we left with.

We really did need groceries and thermal shirts, but somehow this is what we left with.

During one particular Wal-mart run, I explored the $5 CD bin.  I collect CD’s so of course I’m going to check out the selection just in case I come across a gem.  And I did!  A Chevelle album I didn’t have.  Score.  So I was walking through Wal-mart, and the only thing in my hand was a CD, while everyone else from the bus had shopping carts full of cereal and canned pineapple.  Every single one of them that I happened to walk past, made a comment about the CD and how it was strange that I was buying one.  Neat.  Thanks for your input, the last five guys said the same exact thing.

Then I go to order a Diet Coke at the McDonalds that is inside of the Walmart, because I love supporting our capitalistic society run by big corporations and corn byproducts.  If I am not already annoyed because of this, and the pure fact of being inside of a Walmart which goes against my entire lifestyle of trying to live low impact, I hear “oh god.  What did you do to yourself?”

Me: What?

Bus-mate: You got McDonald’s?!

What I’d really like to do here is simply ignore this question and not say anything at all.  Like I said, I do this often, so they are all relatively used to it.  Well, as used to being blatantly ignored as you can get, but in this case, there was nothing else around to distract him, so I had to answer or else be further antagonized.

Me: I just got a Diet Coke.

And even if I had ordered some french fries or whatever, I don’t need to hear your opinion on the subject.  It seems to be a surprise to you, but I have managed to get through my entire life so far, without your incessant commentary.

Then, I get back on the bus and have to hear from the English Hooligan about how bad Diet Coke is bad for me.  I already have grown to accept the fact that I am going to get Lupus due to aspartame poisoning, so let me just grow disease ridden in peace!  He feels the need to comment on my Diet Coke intake every single time I have one, even though he has a milkshake or two every single day, and chicken wings and a cheeseburger every other day, but somehow, “that’s different.”  He’s rolling his eyes and shaking his head right now.

Girls get it worse I think.  The attention that I get as a female on the road is one of the best and one of the worst parts about being a chick roadie.  The down side is that like I’ve already said, everything I do is commented on, but with an added cascade of sexist undertones.  “So, you’re hanging out with {insert name of musician or crew member of another band here}.”

Uh, yeah… and you were just smoking a joint and shooting the shit with him two hours ago, so please spare me of your passive sexist remarks.

Every time I use a hand-truck, which is everyday, SOMEONE makes a comment about it.  It’s usually one of the locals and it’s usually something like, “Don’t they have one of the guys to help you with that?”

Do I help the sound engineer with patching?  Do I hang lights for the LD?  No.  So why would any of them help me cart around t-shirts?  It’s what I’m paid for.  This may come as a surprise to people, but I do get paid for my work.  I cannot tell you how often I have been asked if I get paid and every time it is hugely insulting.  Many people assume that I’m essentially a glorified groupie.  So let’s set the record straight, this is how i make most of my living, yes I get paid fairly well, no I am not someone’s girlfriend and yes I travel on the bus; they don’t strap me onto the roof like cargo.

At the Fonda Theatre in Hollywood, the first thing that the PM said to me was, “Whose girlfriend are you?”  I looked him in the eye, and just turned and walked away.  He went on to get what he deserved, which was a lot of ridicule from a drunken, Norwegian guitar player who laughed in his face and asked him upon meeting him, “Why do you keep grabbing at your crotch?” among other hilarious observations about this guy’s existence.  Beware of the drunken musicians my darling venue staff, because they don’t give a fuck.

Now I am home, and as nice as the privacy and lack of a constant peanut gallery is, I do miss my roadie families.  Every time I’m home, it takes a while to adjust and I don’t know what to do with all of the privacy.  When I walk into an empty house, I think that I should do something “forbidden” just to take advantage of being alone.  Like eat a bowl of ice cream for breakfast while naked with Ace of Base on full volume and dance on the couches and tabletops.  Or at least call a hot boy to make-out with.  Then I remember that I’m crazy, so I just make a salad instead and read the newspaper and yell at it when Dick Cheney is quoted or when Rick Scott tries to pretend like he is not a subhuman who has profited billions off of sick people.

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Post Tour Blues – Report 1 of 2

I have been home for a while now, and I feel that I am FINALLY getting over my Post Tour Blues.  I am starting to make more friends, enjoy my little routines and flirting with the idea of trying to start a garden.  Don’t get me wrong, I cannot friggen wait to get back on the road, but I am enjoying NOT going stir crazy at the moment.  I leave again soon though, and will be traveling for three months, and I am very stoked about that, but I am already dreading the Post Tour Blues that I will be sure to experience upon my return in late November.

There are many reasons why us roadies get the Post Tour Blues as I call it (or PTB).  A lot of the symptoms are due to the sudden change in lifestyle.  The easiest, most concise way to describe it, is that we go from 60 to zero in only a few minutes.  The amount of time that it takes to walk off of the bus and into the airport terminal that will be delivering you home.

I go from being in a new city every day and being at a live, loud, adrenaline pumping rock show every night,  to sitting on my mom’s couch watching her make carrot juice and hearing about the family of rabbits that are hopping around the neighborhood.  Touring can be a lot of fucking fun, and everything I deal with on a daily basis is so over the top that it can sometimes make normal life feel mundane.  Another factor in the cause of Post Tour Blues.

Also, you go from having a very specific, functional purpose, to no purpose at all.  Each person on the tour is essential and provides a specific job that makes the entire tour function.  You know exactly what is required of you and there is a sense of satisfaction at the end of the day.  Then you go home and you have no role and no sense of purpose, and those questions like, “what am I doing with my life?” start haunting you.  I just happened to have the month off during the 2014 World Cup.  I am not kidding when I tell you that I spent the entire month alone in a bar, drinking beer and watching soccer.  I had a great time, but honestly, in that month, there was just no purpose to my existence.

This brings me to my next point, which is often, I tend to isolate myself post tour.  I know that I probably shouldn’t, because it only enhances the blues, but I know that a lot of other touring folk do this as well.  I’ve speculated on some of the reasons why this is.  One I believe, is that it does become harder to relate to people who live a more stable lifestyle.  Your cares, concerns and experiences, the things that you talk about, are radically different.  It’s not that one way of life is superior to the other, it’s just different, and I get self-conscious sometimes about the topics of conversation that I would probably bring up.  I’m sitting there discussing how I can’t remember if I accidentally drunkenly kissed the guitar tech, how a goth with metal spikes coming from his head stalked me all night, trying to get access on to the bus, and how I’m thinking about dreadlocking my hair just so that I don’t have to deal with hair maintenance on the road.  The stable friend is discussing how their kid likes playing with a broken piece of a picture frame rather than their toys, how the contractor put in the wrong tile in their kitchen and how they may get an office promotion.  Neither is right or wrong, just different and I know that I am the more abnormal one; the minority, so it sometimes makes me self-conscious and I just avoid that type of interaction.  There are of course certain close friends that you don’t have to worry about this type of thing with, thank goodness for them.

Being alone often after tour is mostly self-induced, but not always.  Your friends and family have their own lives without you because they have become accustom to you not being around.  So when they don’t call you to invite you out for their traditional Saturday afternoon Bloody Mary’s at the nearby beach bar, it’s not because they don’t want you there, it’s just that they have grown into the habit of not calling because you’re often not in town.  I sometimes feel very alone after a tour, which leads to PTB.

Romantic relationships are fucked.  To the point where I don’t even have the emotional stamina to get into that right now.  I think it’s obvious how touring puts a major strain on any type of relationship, but especially romantic ones, so hopefully you can use your imagination and forgive me for skipping over the dirty details right now.  Maybe down the road… probably when I am suffering through another episode of PTB, I may be in the mood to drink a bottle of whiskey and dredge through painful memories.

When you’re on the road, it’s easy to distract yourself from the thoughts of your personal life back home being annihilate because there is constant new stimulus.  Once you are back home though, you’re forced to confront all of the things that you have been putting off during your tour and it hits you in the stomach, knocking the wind out of you.

Finally being able to have some damn privacy once you get home is very nice and so you feel the compulsion to take advantage of that and get as much privacy as you can soak up.  This ultimately leads to the loneliness as well.   I will get to bus privacy in the 2nd report.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,