10 July 2018

oh, uh, oops! it turns out i’m not going to paris . . . i’m going to oslo instead. and berlin! i have a long-ass layover in berlin so i’m definitely leaving the airport and going into the city lol

well! cool!!!!!!!!!!!!

09 July 2018

Well: I’m going to Vienna next October to scratter my grandmother’s ashes in her home country. It is, I guess, a final ritual to be performed by my little sister and I. I am flying into Paris and going to Vienna from there, and then we’ll spend two or three days in the city, rent a car and head towards the country to return our grandmother to the place where she was born . . . then go back to Vienna and spend a few more days there. On the way back to California I have a long-ass layover in Stockholm. Well, there you go.

I have not been back to Vienna since I was 15 years old. My grandmother and my cousins and my aunt and uncle and I flew all the way there to spend Christmas. Initially I did not want to go because I was In Love With A Girl at the time, and the thought of being away from her for the entirety of my winter break hurt me deeply! This girl, who didn’t love me—she had given me a letter before I left to be opened once I got on the plane. It said something to the effect of: Baby, relax. I’ll be here when you get back. Go with your family, you fool, and see the home of your ancient fathers. So I went, and it was very good. I only missed her a few times. I was so cold most of the time, having only brought a hoodie and a leather jacket, that I couldn’t really think about anything else outside of finding a warm place to die. I was 15, god for’s sake, and so such thoughts were commonplace to me at the time. (What’s my excuse now? I wonder.)

Anyway: Austria is a beautiful place. We went all over the place: from Vienna to Salzburg to Innsbruck. I met my extended Austrian family, who were kinda weird, and saw Mozart’s birth house, and the little chapel where ‘Silent Night’ was written, and on and on. I could tell it meant a lot to my grandmother that I got to see her home. She knew everything about it, and would hold my arm and point to things and explain the history of it all while my teeth clattered and my breath froze midair. Somewhere in my closet is a box of mini-DV tapes, which I have hauled around with me all over this godforsaken country for the last 15 years of my life, and two of these little tapes have three or four unbroken, shaky, probably insufferable hours from that trip. I have never watched them. For years I told my grandmother I would splice it up and make a 20-minute thing for The Whole Family. I never did this because of the insane amount of hard drive space it would take . . . and also because I was missing a cord for my old-ass camera, or whatever. At any rate there were a lot of excuses. I regret that I was never able to do this for her, but maybe it’s for the best.

She would say to me every Christmas: “Wasn’t that the best Christmas you ever had? It’s my favorite Christmas memory. I think about it from time to time.” To which I would say, sincerely, that it was my favorite one too. Yes, and now that she is gone, I suppose it will stay that way forever.

Auf wiedersehen, Omie. You’ll be back in good ol Austria here soon . . . ninety-two years after you were born there. You just took the long way home, that’s all. Hey, that’s no so bad.

07 July 2018

Remember what the fellow said: In Italy, for thirty years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed . . . but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love. They had five hundred years of democracy and peace—and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.

03 July 2018

How do I know that enjoying life is not a delusion? How do I know that in hating death we are not like people who got lost in early childhood and do not know the way home? Lady Li was the child of a border guard in Ai. When first captured by the state of Jin, she wept so much her clothes were soaked. But after she entered the palace, shared the king’s bed, and dined on the finest meats, she regretted her tears. How do I know that the dead do not regret their previous longing for life? One who dreams of drinking wine may in the morning weep; one who dreams weeping may in the morning go out to hunt. During our dreams we do not know we are dreaming. We may even dream of interpreting a dream. Only on waking do we know it was a dream. Only after the great awakening will we realize that this is the great dream. And yet fools think they are awake, presuming to know that they are rulers or herdsmen. How dense! You and Confucius are both dreaming, and I who say you are a dream am also a dream. Such is my tale. It will probably be called preposterous, but after ten thousand generations there may be a great sage who will be able to explain it, a trivial interval equivalent to the passage from morning to night.

from ‘the book of chuang tzu’ which i’ve had on my nightstand for like two years