Thursday, March 10, 2011


Yesterday I was headed for the bus stop. I was coming from a friend's house, from whence I'd picked up all my dirty rugby stuff I'd accidentally left behind. Over the weekend we played a very, very muddy game of rugby against Western Oregon University. I had to retrieve the stuff I'd left with the friend, because it was damp, and probably was not exactly filling her house with pleasant aromas.

muddy indeed.
So anyway, there I was, trudging along and minding my own business, with a large smelly backpack on my back, and this guy saunters up next to me and says "Hey." To which I respond "Hey." He was a breed of human not unknown to Bellingham. Dreadlocked, stripey wool sweatered, Carharted, and Birkenstocked, he introduced himself to me as Lance.

Despite his rather surprising appearance, and his subsequent apparent intention to walk with me as far as our paths continued to coincide, he was a very friendly guy. He asked me if I smoke, and before I could reply, he clarified "Cigarettes. Do you smoke cigarettes?" which made me chortle. It can be a bit of an open-ended question here in the heart of liberal hippie-dom. I informed him I did not, and he asked if I minded if he lit one. I didn't, so he did. (American Spirits, of course)

the chosen cancer-stick of hippies and hipsters alike.
We walked on, and he asked me if I was a Western student.
"I am. Are you?"
"Oh, no, I just moved here from Oregon. I just came from campus though. I like to hang out there and play pool."
"...Ah. I see. Are you good at it then?"
"Good at what?"
"Hah. Not really."
"I... I see."

Not really much I could say to that, I suppose. He then volunteered the information that he was headed to the Royal, a bar downtown. To play more pool. I really had nothing more to say on the topic of pool, so I nodded and offered up this gem: "I've never been in there."

here it is, complete with a douchbag!
He dragged on his American Spirit, and then said with a grand, smoke-trailing gesture "So where are you headed?" His sweeping hand gesture took in the downhill slope of the city of Bellingham, and the rain dampened street in front of us.

much like this one.
 I explained that I was headed to the bus stop, and then back home, where I intended to do laundry. I almost instantly regretted the mention of laundry, becuase I didn't want him to think I was mocking him with my clear and easy access to such a luxury. Clearly, his was more limited.

I should have used the less commonly known "Прачечная" to describe it. 
Lance didn't seem to mind, instead bobbing his dreadlocked head amicably. He then inquired as to where I was from. Eager to distract him from his own laundry-deficit, I told him I was from Wyoming. This elicited the usual suprised face, but then he said something I have never heard asked about my own fair home state. "Oh, the unknown state! So what's its ah... its nomer?"

Interestingly enough, I knew exactly what he meant.
"It's called the Equality State, actually."
I refrained from going into why that in and of itself is a rather embarrassing misnomer, at least in some respects, and left it at that.

yes. among... among other things.
My walking companion gave me a suprised glance, and then went "Huh. Well that's pretty cool. Have you ever been to the Alternative Library?"

Though it was a wild swing in topic, I once again knew what he was talking about. The Alternative Library is a regular person-run library here in Bham, and is reportedly stocked with all the kinds of books you can't usually find in regular libraries. Also they had a nudist party there a couple weekends ago, complete with body-painting.

I google image-searched "body painting" and immediately regretted it, so instead here is a picture of some spring crocuses that I took.
 Truth be told, it sounds like a fascinating place, and I've actually been meaning to go, though I think I'll make sure to go on a day when people will be fully clothed. I told Lance this (minus the nudie part, we didn't know each other, and I really didn't want to know if he was also a nudist) and he nodded, and then gave me some very vague directions to the place. If I ever do end up going, I now know to "look for a place with a swing-thing on State Street."

"Excuse me, but I see you have a swing? Might you also sometimes have nudist body-painting parties? No? My mistake. Carry on. Next house!"
Then, at the crossing of North Garden and Chestnut, we parted ways. I headed up the hill to the bus stop, and Lance headed down the hill in pursuit of more pool.

Once I was on the bus, I was greeted by a larger man in a grey hat and headphones, complete with a cassette player. "Hi! How are you?"

His name is Dan. He rides the bus back and forth, around and around Bellingham. He works at IHOP, he'll tell you so right away, and he always inquires what you think about the weather. He'll tell you he rides the bus becuase he doesn't want to get bored when he's not working. He'll also tell you about how he often rides the train down to Seattle to visit his brother, and how he's got another brother in Portland. His favorite color is blue. He was born on a Thursday, and after he asked me what day and year I was born, he was quick to inform me I was born on a Sunday. (which happens to be true) We'd met before, Dan and I. Several times, actually, on several different buses. He never remembers me or my name, but he can always tell me when I was born, and he can also predict the weather with frightening accuracy.
"... and then on the 12th of May, which will be a Thursday, it will rain for 32 minutes."
So that's what happened to me yesterday. Sometimes I forget how interesting people can be. I'm glad that yesterday was around to remind me of how fascinating we human beans can be.

Monday, March 7, 2011


Here's something you should know about me: I hate running.

No really. I am not exactly the most athletic person out there, and something about running makes me just want to vomit. Sometimes literally.

But the other day I woke up at 4:45 in the morning. I stared at my ceiling for a little while, counted some sheep, organized my sock drawer (no really), and then I played some Call of Duty. Then all of sudden it was kinda light outside, and I had too much hyper energy to be sitting around playing a video game. Plus there's only so much of Black Ops I can take before it stresses me out too much.
the bad guys aren't sympathetic with my need to take mini-panic attack breaks.
So I dressed up in a winsomely striking outfit of pink and blue leopard-spotted spandex tights, blue and green running shoes, and my periwinkle blue rugby sweatshirt. Needless to say, I was quite fetching. And then I went for a run.

In case you missed the first part of this post due to some sort of strange anomaly, let me reiterate: I really hate running. But I did it anyway, because it's supposed to be good for you or some shit like that.

And honestly, it wasn't that bad. I mean, the running part was pretty horrible. But being out in the early morning by myself, in the chilled dark, my breath puffing out in front of me, listening to Mumford & Sons' winsome banjo...
I love this. So much.
It was actually kinda nice.

Now don't get too ahead of yourself and assume I've become a runner. But maybe I'll start to enjoy it more often from now on.

And here's the thing about being up so early - I see other people that are up, and I wonder what the heck they're doing out and about. Or, for example, there is somebody in my apartment building that thunders down the stairs every morning at about 4:30. Where are you going? Why are you in such a hurry? And why are you running around at 4 in the morning?

I am strangely possessive of my early mornings. I don't like it when other people usurp them.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

in fair Verona, where we lay our scene...

That title's Shakespeare, by the way. You're welcome for making this blog more culturally rich and all that. Don't you feel so much smarter now?
he wasn't a very attractive chap, was he?
I landed in Verona around noon. Needless to say, I was a little jet-lagged. I'd been flying for like 12 hours, and I was lugging around a really big suitcase. Also, I'd gotten a "world phone" from Verizon, that was supposed to be equipped to call the US as soon as I turned it on, so I could call my house and tell my parents I'd made it to Italy and hadn't been kidnapped or shanked or any of that nonsense.

But unfortunately, the phone wasn't working. I spent about fifteen minutes turning it off and back on again, shaking it, tapping it against various hard services, and attempting to call people. Which is pretty much the extent of my technology-fixing skills. But it still wasn't working, so I legged it to a nearby cab, and hauled out my awesome Italian skills to ask him to drive me to my hotel.

Now I'm not entirely sure if this is all Italian cab drivers, or just mine (seeing as I've only been on three Italian cab rides in my life, though the following two were not like this.) but my cab driver drove like he was on leave from his other job driving race cars in the Grand Prix.

my cab driver on a different day. Jesus H, man, calm down. I would like to get to my hotel in one piece!
He was weaving in and out of traffic like nobody's business, and treating speed limits like mere suggestions.

incidentally, this is what a European speed limit sign looks like. and that's km/hr. my driver was going about twice this.
Thankfully, we made it to the hotel without too much trouble, or bodily injury. My hotel was quite swanky, too. It was called Hotel Giberti, and the front desk clerk spoke impeccable English, which was fantastic. If you were wondering how great my Italian is, the answer is not at all. The little Italian I knew I'd picked up from reading Italian for Dummies on the plane. Thankfully, it has quite a few similarities to Spanish, which I took in high school. But I was still very relieved when the clerk spoke English.

I got to my hotel room, and then got to spend almost an hour attempting to figure out how to call my parents from the phone by my bed. I would pick up the receiver, and then press buttons randomly, trying to get some sort of menu that wasn't rattled off at me in rapid-fire Italian. I managed to figure out how to call home, and subsequently assured my parents that I was not, in fact, dead.

And then I was starving, so I set out to find some food. Just around the corner from my hotel was a little food shop. I made my way in, and studied the array of foodstuffs behind the plexi-glass. The lady behind the counter gave me a quick nod and said "Prego."
Apparently, this means "ready" and Italians use it all the freaking time. Waitresses use it, taxi-drivers use it, people who answer the phone use it, etc. But at the time, I think I just gave her a blank stare. Possibly with some oh-so-lovely jet-lag drool. She made an impatient noise, and gave me a "come-on, you stupid tourist!" gesture, and said in heavily accented English "What you want?"

I wanted to go for a sandwich, but damn if I knew how to say "sandwich." So I went with "pizza" instead, which is a nice safe word that I only slightly butchered with my American accent. And then she said something about what I thought meant "mushrooms" but was apparently "cheese." So I got cheese pizza instead of mushroom pizza, and then she heated it up for me. I only managed to get hot pizza because "heat" in Italian sounds very much like "heat" in Spanish.
pictured: formaggio
pictured: funghi. see? the two are totally... and 'funghi' sounds like 'fungus', which is like another way of saying mushroom here, and... shut up.
And then I took my pizza outside, sat on a bench, and savored my victory. Hah, I was proficient and self-sufficient! I even managed to give her correct change.

The next day and a half I spent exploring Verona. I was up really early both days, because I would end up succumbing to jet lag each night and would go to bed around 7 pm. It turns out Verona in the morning is really the only way to go. The big tourist attractions like the Roman amphitheater and Juliet's house aren't anywhere near as crowded at 8 am.
see? empty.
And I got to wander around Italy all by myself for two days, which was fantastically awesome. I've always been something of a wanderer, and, as I've said, I am pretty good at entertaining myself. I wandered, and talked to myself in broken Italian pronounced in a decidedly Spanish-speaking way. And I took lots and lots of pictures.

Here's another thing I should probably tell you about myself: I like to pretend. When I was in Malaysia, I'd totally pretend I was a Canadian student, or once I honed my German accent, I'd pretend I was German. Americans aren't usually the most favored tourists around, and also I get a kick out of practicing my accents, in more than one language.

So when I was in Verona? I pretended to be Russian (some of the time). I do an excellent Russian accent. You'd swear I was from Mother Russia herself if you heard me. Да, прачечная!
that means "Yes, laundry!" it's the only thing I know how to say in Russian. long story.
But I digress. 

Italy is amazing. It's full of life, and pasta, and romance. It has towering mountains and sweeping plains, ancient architecture and modern buildings. And I really want to go back.
because who wouldn't?