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Dr. Oktober

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Inspired by Jay. [21 Jan 2008|12:34pm]

I'm going to post something. Not a big deal. 

There really isn't much to report from Munich. On the one hand, it sucks. I don't speak German, everything is expensive if you don't already have Euros, and Munich turned out to be more like America than probably any other city we could have chosen. On the other hand, it's amazing. We have a swank apartment, the holidays are over, we're slowly getting (very well paid) work with different language schools, and all the little things I do every day--precisely because it's such a challenge to surpass the language and culture barriers--are actually meaningful. 

But the novelty is dwindling.

I gauge my satisfaction with life in large part based on how I feel when I wake up in the mornings, before all the business of the day has numbed the raw, existential impression that I get when I wake up and remember where I am and what I'm doing. When I was in Colorado, I used to wake up in a panic almost every day; I'm convinced that it was a symptom of my dissatisfaction with life. For the past three months, however, I have woken up feeling calm and happy, ready for new adventures. I had broken the monotony of life in Colorado, and as my regard of this experience in Europe changed from "vacation" to "lifestyle" I continued to wake up calmly; the existential moments more invigorating than frightening.
But, as sedentism in Munich continues, as I have more time to check back on the lives of my friends and family in Colorado, as the pattern of daily life becomes cemented into a routine, I feel the creeping panic reemerging in the mornings. The existential moments bring waxing doubt about this. I can't escape as easily as dissolving into a computer game (as I would have in Colorado) or bopping into a cafe in France (as I would have a month ago)--more and more I have to answer to the doubts that the existential moments--the 'absurd' moments--bring, and I am afraid.  I fear that this Munich life really isn't tenable. That I Ellen and I are just playing house and ignoring major problems with our existence here. That without friends, without social outlets, without something other than work and home, we will implode. 
We were warned about this. People told us to find something outside of work to connect with, and now I understand why. It's not as grave as looking into plane tickets back home. It's just that: 

When you are accustomed to having amazing friends (and you all, really, are)--to being part of a social clique (I hesitate to use the word in order to not smack of a teenage social mentality) that is more concerned with discussing philosophy, society, politics, etc. than with getting drunk at clubs and dancing--then it's difficult to regress. Furthermore, I view the people I know and love in Colorado as representing a minority of the population: the intelligent misfit demographic. Now take the English speaking population of Munich as a representative sample of the larger demographic, with most personalities represented. If I want to find a people here similar to my friends in Colorado, I have to seek a similar minority WITHIN A MINORITY. Ellen and I were lucky to find Derek, the Scottish English major who was willing to come to Munich from Paris over the holidays and talked at great lengths about Deleuze and Virginia Woolf. We were lucky. What are the odds that we'll be similarly lucky any time soon? And will we find these people only traveling, or actually living here? Am I being to unwilling to befriend people unlike myself? I certainly don't want to BECOME interested in drinking and clubbing. Is that the only way? Where does the intelligent misfit demographic hang out in Munich? 

Enough, I have gone from talking about identity and existence to asking where the cool people are--but sometimes a cup of hot chocolate makes the whole day better. You know? 

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No time to compose a real entry, here's some copied emails to folks. [03 Dec 2007|03:13pm]
After we left Paris, we got to Tournan-en-Brie and settled into the school.
Given all this logistical stuff, it's hard to simply enjoy being here, but I am really glad that I did the TEFL course, and am really looking forward to settling down in a city.

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[11 Nov 2007|06:19pm]

We left Reims on Friday, and spent Friday night, Saturday, and this morning in Paris.

We're heading to Tournan-en-Brie--the suburb where the school is located--today on the RER regional metro, and for the next four weeks we'll be about an hour outside of Paris.

EDIT: We got to school. Tournan-en-Brie is in the middle of pretty much nowhere, but it's quaint. The school is beautiful, the woman who runs it is nice, there's equally three Brits, three Americans, and one other student who we've not met yet. More to come.
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Reims [08 Nov 2007|11:58am]
Ellen and I left Lille two days ago and went to Reims (pronounced "RHANS"), France. We got a super cheap train ticket, even thought it involved six hours of travelling--a direct ticket would have been €60, we got ours for €22 per person. Ellen and I are doing a lot of bargain hunting and budgeting. So far I've only spent €450 (roughly 660 dollars, which is about how much I spent on my plane ticket). We've gotten into the habit of food shopping at supermarkets and eating really good dinners for cheap. We've also seen a couple of movies at theaters. It's hilarious to see French subtitles on English movies, but it helps us learn some French words too! We saw the movie "Control" while we were in Mons, and the night before last we saw "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford." It's a kind of anglocentric luxury to be the only two people (of, like, 15 people) in a theatre that really understand the all of the English. Today we're going out to see more of Reims. We already toured the massive Cathedral here, but there's so much more to see.  Ellen got sick yesterday from one of her roomates, so we just hung out at the hostel. My roomate is a retired old man from the Pyrenees region of France. He speaks English very well, and likes to talk about his travels through France, giving good advice as he talks. As per his advice, we're going to try to tour a wine cellar and get a free glass of champagne at the end; it's vital that we try some champagne while we're in the Champagne region of France.

We'll be heading out to Paris tomorow, hopefully finding some place cheap and nice to stay. Hopefully also not staying in the downtown mall area that all large cities seem to have here in Europe. Five to ten square blocks of solid chic. Like one big department store. Maybe Montmartre is different. Who knows. 

Wish I could write more, but Reims has only one internet cafe, and they charge €4 per hour--like they just discovered the internet here, or something.

Best wishes,

Dana and Ellen.

edit: PS I'm really sorry to hear about Craig, and I wish that I could be there with you guys. There really are no words, but for the rest of us that are still alive, let's all promise not to kill ourselves, if only for the sake of our friends, yah?
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[02 Nov 2007|02:37pm]
Ellen and I both really like Mons, it's more working-class than Namur or Brussels, so it's less expensive and the people are nicer. The hostel is very nice (judging from the two hostels we've seen). They all have narrow little bunk-beds, cinder block walls, and tiny bathrooms. However, it's not at all bad because the hostels are all new, and are cleaned every day. They have a typical truly Continental breakfast consisting of bread, ham or turkey, butter, jelly, cheese, yogurt, orange juice, and really weak coffee (we usually have to suppliment our daily coffee by going out to a café, roughly €1.80 for a small cup of strong coffee). I have only had to sleep with a total of three other people; Ellen hasn't had any roomates this whole time (off season?). They have all been nice, older, and English-speaking--but we haven't run into any Americans yet. The hostels are really nothing like I imagined them to be; they seem more geared toward families, so there are lots of little kids running around. The weather in Belgium has been mostly overcast, with roughly two days of sun and two days of rain. We've been walking about four or five miles every day, so we had to buy some gel inserts for our shoes. A lot of our thinking has been toward budgeting, because it would be really esy to drop a fortune here. 

Ellen is sitting next to me right now booking a hostel in Lille, France online, and we'll be heading out tomorrow. Google Mons to see what we've been seeing. People in this part of Belgium are fiercely proud of their Waloonian heritage and traditions, not like those crazy Dutch-Belgians in the North...
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Moving to Europe [23 Oct 2007|10:59am]

So here's the skinny for all those who don't yet know. Ellen and I are heading to Paris to get TEFL certification, and then (hopefully) teach English somewhere. We'll be leaving this Friday (10/26), flying into Brussels, and backpacking around for 16 days while we meander toward our school outside of Paris. The TEFL course will last four weeks, and we will be staying at the school. After the class, we will probably have a better idea of what job opportunities there are, and where we would like to work. Most jobs, we've heard, require a one-year commitment, so we will probably be gone for a while. We've toyed around with the idea of moving on to the Czech Rep., Germany, Italy, Turkey, Romania, Georgia, China, etc.--If anyone has any urgent recommendations, we would love to hear them!

Also, if anyone has any urgent advice about living out of a backpack for an undetermined amount of time, I would like to hear about it.


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[21 Jan 2007|12:52am]
When I woke up and removed the camera from my brain, this is what the tape revealed:

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An open letter to science: [21 Jun 2006|01:54am]
Dear Science,

I'm going to need a few things from you in the form of inventions that you should really make already. First, a ray gun. You have had more than fifty years to come up with a working ray gun, and to provide it cheaply to the masses. Yet, you don't even have a prototype, nor any proposed date for release to the public. I'm going to need one pretty soon, so hurry up with it. Second, I think that you should make some kind of glass that can be hammered into the ground in sheets. Just think of the possibilities. Third, I think that four hours of sleep is plenty, and you, science, should work to make that true. Finally, I think pretty much everybody is sick of having to constantly take care of their teeth. You really need to design some stronger teeth for us, preferably ones that come in a range of colors and textures.

Also, how 'bout telling me where I'm going to go when I die. That shouldn't be too hard, you've just been lazy about the whole thing.


An avid consumer.

PS I have a bunch of other ideas, but I need these things very soon.
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[17 May 2006|09:19pm]
Why Americans Own America

-An essay by Dana Daldos, history MAJOR.

A million years ago, there was Old World monkeys and New World monkeys. They didn’t look very different, but they lived on opposite sides of the world. Back then the sky was made of mirrors, so you could look up into the sky and see what was happening on the other side of the world. OMGWTFBBQ?Collapse )
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Genrepunk [10 May 2006|04:25pm]
I wanted to bring this discussion out of a comment I left in Jesse's lj.

I'm curious what possible "___punk" styles exist, or could exist, given the parameters of the two genres I know to have started the idea: Cyberpunk and Steampunk. I have come up with a tentative list of further styles. As evidenced by the titles included, the theme of ___punk is any genre plastered onto modern conceptions of progress and exaggerated to modern megalopolis scales. Basically the entire modern world dominated by a subgenre of fiction from our actual world, or alternatively having the grungy, overwhelming claustrophobic quality that marked Cyberpunk.

My list:

Cyberpunk (the whole thing)
Steampunk (Steamboy, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Wild Wild West)
Romepunk (Titus, Gladiator [based on scale and theme], Reign (albeit based on the Hellenistic period)
Decopunk (Skycaptain and the World of Tomorrow)
Westernpunk (alternative name? RPG: Deadlands)
Superpunk (comics: Earth X, Kingdom Come)
Strangepunk (alt. name? book: Illuminatus! show: X-Files rpg: Over the Edge)
Spacepunk (typical space-opera, galactic scale civilization, possibly inappropriate for this)
Americapunk (alt. name? comic: Transmetropolitan movie: Fifth Element)
Postpunk? (Aeon Flux)

Any further discussion of, or contribution to this list is welcome. Argue with me.
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Economist lore. [10 Jan 2006|11:09am]
So there was me, Al Greenspan, and Joe Stiglitz, all sitting in a bar one afternoon on the Lower East side, drinking cosmos and talking about Reagan's foreign policy and such. After a while, we noticed Joe was staring at a TV above the bar, mumbling to himself. Alan asks, "'Ey Joe, whaddya lookin' at?" and Joe goes, "General Dynamics up 1.4." And I was like, "What?" and Joe just keeps going, only now he's pointing at the TV, "G.E. down .49" So Al and I look up at the screen, and whaddya know, he was dead-on. Joe Stiglitz was predicting the stock market! We asked him how he was doing it, and he says the numbers was just "Coming to him." This lasted for about three hours, then his predictions started to slide. Later that night, he asked us if we had any Microsoft stock. We said no, and he goes, "Get some."

Swear to God, it's a true story.
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Sating your curiosity [10 Jan 2006|12:06am]
For all you non-smokers, a plain cigarette--depending on the type, number of re-fries, outside temperature, cleanliness of the mouth, and rate of smoking--can have any combination of these flavors:

Steak (medium-well)

This is by no means a comprehensive list, and any further suggestions are welcome.
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Many words on a stupid subject. Shut up, you know you think like this. [15 Dec 2005|02:46pm]

Rich, chocolaty Ovaltine.

Holy moley, what else?Collapse )
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[06 Dec 2005|10:56am]
There's some white flaky shit falling from the sky. Is it fallout? Anthrax? Ashes from a mass cremation?

Should I be armed and ready?
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Why I'm not a religious person [05 Dec 2005|01:26am]
I long to have whatever inspires the placid faces of Buddha and Jesus. I know that many millions of others see those expressions and think the same. They think, in this life of pain, they knew something that made it all okay to sit under a banyan tree or preach peace (more or less) on a hillside in the desert.

Then I think about what I would call "highly religious" people. Pat Robertson and the whole evangelical ocean. Israel and Ariel Sharon. House of Saud and the mutaween. Catholic priests. Buddhists in Communist China, Capitalist Japan, and Revolutionary Nepal. Hindu Brahmans throwing acid in the faces of the untouchables.

Some Christians will say that becoming a Christian made their lives WORSE, not better. That's like voluntarily paying more taxes. Yet they still bully people into Christism.

Religion doesn't make you happy. I just seems to turn people who would otherwise have enough problems and flaws into self-righteous ideologues. People say that it's more about the community of fellow worshipers to share in the bizarre practices and hoop-jumping for God. My chapel is bigger and brighter than yours. I said the selichot a thousand times today. I carved a thousand and ONE lotus-cheeked Buddhas on this grain of rice.

and we still have absolutely no fucking idea what happens when we die.
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I <3 revisionist history [02 Dec 2005|10:09am]
From Squee45:

"If you read this, if your eyes are passing over this right now (even if we don't speak often), please post a comment with a COMPLETELY MADE UP AND FICTIONAL memory of you and me.

It can be anything you want -- good or bad -- BUT IT HAS TO BE FAKE.

When you're finished, post this little paragraph on your blog and be surprised (or mortified) about what people DON'T ACTUALLY remember about you.... if you want..."

Do it. Tell me a thing.
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[18 Nov 2005|12:31am]
Is it possible, I wonder, to experience Stockholm syndrome toward an institution?

...School, for example.
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On: Hair. [29 Sep 2005|11:44pm]
I know that most of you have realized that I'm pretty obsessed with my hair.

What many of you may not know is that my mother is a hairdresser.

In other words, my mom has chosen, as her career, her calling in life, to cut and style other people's hair. For this, she is titled Hair Stylist. She has a business devoted to the cutting and shaping of hair. Hair.
There is a hair industry. Literally, they have catalogs full of products for the cutting and shaping of people's HAIR. That stuff that continues to grow all over your body for the duration of your life despite all attempts to stop it.

My mom's scissors cost her over A THOUSAND DOLLARS. SCISSORS. HAIR.

How did this tradition start? Of course, it used to be a simple male luxury to have a barber attend to your grooming needs. And we've all seen the many "services" they offered, from hot towels and haircuts, to shaving and shoe polishing. Now it's difficult to even find an old fashioned barber shop. Most salons cater to women. Why does such stupid decadence continue? I started cutting my own hair almost two years ago. It's not rocket science. My mother is neither qualified to treat cancer nor to run a nuclear reactor. You take some scissors, you pull some hair, you cut. Yet--and please understand that my mother has been FORCED into this position in order to keep a manageable clientele--she charges upwards of fifty dollars to do this herself. Yes, that's just a simple wash and cut. Coloring and perming cost considerably more, in the $70 range (mind you, both of these can be done at home for much less. Are we really so bewildered by the things that happen on the backs of our heads that we can't grab the nearest pair of scissors, grab a chunk of hair, and trust ourselves to cut, at least somewhere in the neighborhood of an inch or so, off? Maybe have a friend or robot do it if you really get nauseous thinking of incurring any sort of damage to parts of your head that you can't see? It blows my mind. Granted, my mom is pretty "good" at what she does, insofar as the hair people have when they come out looks better than it did when they went in. Some of my mom's clients are on a four-week schedule. Most of them are male professionals, and they drop $35 dollars every visit. And for the thirty minutes and thirty dollars spent, you couldn't top-off a film container with the amount of hair removed. Sometimes all they really need is have the back of their necks trimmed. A woman's hair cut (WHC) used to cost 22 dollars. She has had to raise the price of her haircuts on a regular basis to keep people from swamping her schedule, begging for the opportunity to throw their money away. She, like all salons, has an extensive line of retail products to augment the hair-manipulating experience. Do you know what most hair products are? Any combination of glue, fat, glycerin, perfume, dye, alcohol, and water. That's all. You can get all of these ingredients at Safeway. What does a bottle of salon-quality shampoo cost? Over twenty dollars for a 16oz bottle. I started using dish soap last semester, and for me, nothing works better.

It's not that hair isn't important, it really, really is. But as I sat on the toilet, trimming my pubic hairs to a svelte 3mm length, recalling what Ellen had said about my nose hair being too freakishly long for her to even pay attention to what I was saying, it occurred to me that some people spend far more time and money on simple, stupid hair than I do--and some of those people are my mother.
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[14 Sep 2005|10:55pm]
I never realized that Julia Butterfly was so hot.

It's a shame she was also such a god damned hippie.
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[11 Sep 2005|01:09am]
"Aby jednak tak się stało potrzebna jest prosta edukacja - jak wybierać te 'dbające produkty'? Pierwszym krokiem do świadomych zakupów jest wykreowanie takiej potrzeby, drugim wyjaśnienie, jak takie produkty znajdować."

Doesn't it look like the Polish language is beating itself up?

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