Posts Tagged ‘Travel’

Nothing like laying down for what should be six hours worth of sleep and waking up halfway through awake as if I’d been main-lining espresso.  I woke up out of a dead sleep (something I’m unaccustomed to in the first place) in full overdrive, and if it weren’t for the fact that the medieval front door to this apartment squeaks like a banshee dragging nails on a chalkboard that also screams, I’d have gone for a very enthusiastic wander through Rome.  Oh yeah, it’s like 3am here.

Must be lonely.

Sorry, couldn’t resist.

Anyway.  I’m stuck at an impasse, and I’m not happy about it.  I can’t reconcile the way that I love damn near everything about Rome– and soon I have to return to the ever blase southwestern New York/northeast Pennsylvania.  This city is vibrant, alive, and still very rooted in its rich history.  My neck of the woods?  I’m lucky if I find people that can tell the difference between you’re/your.  This is a level of infatuation that I’ve never felt for a locale, and I’ve been wrestling with the desire to move here.

For realsies, I could not get tired of this!

Seriously!  How could I not?!

Then it hit me– besides the money (which my great grandparents didn’t have when they all decided to up and head for the US in the first place), the only reasons I am not making preparations now are my friends and family.  Yeah, sure, it’s the Digital Age and I can Skype them for free– I get it– and a 6 hour time difference really isn’t that big a deal.  However, it’s the distance that is.  For 34 years, I think the farthest I’ve lived from the people that I know and love has been 3 hours…  and even then, I had a couple people I knew even if I didn’t hang out with them.

That’s one Hell of a habit to break.  Gone would be the family holidays that I’ve looked forward to with a mixed bag of anticipation and anxiety.  Gone would be the trainwreck homecomings with the boys.  Gone would be the ability to jump in the car and go hang out.  Sure, that’s superfluous on many levels– but also gone would be the ability to be there for weddings/funerals/emergencies.

Am I happy with how things are in the States?  Nope.  Hell, I’m working on buying a house (which is a headache that’s 10x worse than planning a wedding), so it’s not like I’m up shit creek without a paddle either.

And that's putting it nicely.

That awful moment when you’ve reached an impasse between what you want and what you have.

Now here’s the “but wait, there’s more” moment– to reconcile this euphoric sense of belonging that have had since I got here (in spite of being sick as a fucking dog the first 3 days) and my “issues” with leaving my family/friends behind, I’d need something that everyone needs…  a fat stack of cash.  When I say a fat stack of cash, I’m talking stupid money.   I’m talking the kind of cash that if you don’t have it by the time you’re in you’re 20’s, you’re statistically never going to get it.

Yup.  Insomnia sucks, especially when that never-say-die side of you (overdeveloped, in my case) is still trying to figure out a way to make Rome my home.

Oh well, may as well do something with the time on my hands instead of pondering an effective impossibility.

*reaches for the pile of unfinished .doc files*

Unplug.

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Andiamo!!

Posted: September 23, 2014 in Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

When in Rome, do as the Romans do, right?  Well I worked on a road construction crew for four summers during college (so I’m no stranger to professionally playing in traffic), and these people are fucking nuts.  Traffic patterns here are not unlike the bastard child of a Zerg rush and Lemmings, and pedestrians give positively zero fucks about the trusty dead-weight-tonnage-rule…  chaos and balls are the name and spirit of the game if you wanna get anywhere.

I could get used to it here.  Actually, who do I think I’m kidding?  A living, breathing city that is deeply in touch with thousands of years of heritage is the perfect place to live.  The food, the architecture, the art, the culture, the everything is the reason I could totally expat here and get used to it…. but the madness associated with driving?  Screw that noise, I’d rather navigate the winding alleys and blocks on foot.

The land where no SUV may go....  seriously.

Oh yeah, and everyone drives micromachines. To the point where riding a scooter isn’t something you’d ever be made fun of for riding.

That’s right, the name of the game here is go.  If you were there first, you have the right of way, and other people stop for you.  Traffic signals are a nice suggestion, but ultimately feckless.  Oddly enough, everyone seems pretty calm and accepting of what would otherwise be a road-rager’s worst-case scenario.  It might also have to do with the fact that the only places you can do better than 10 mph are on the main thoroughfares– and those are clusterfucks of Biblical proportion.

Speaking of Biblical– we spent most of the day today at the Vatican Museum…  or Musei Vaticani as the locals call it.  I’ve seen pictures of St. Peter’s Basilica, and many of the works of art in the museum proper…  I’ve seen pictures of the Sistine Chapel…  In no way did I once feel like this was going to be like a Lucy/Desi rerun– just on a bigger screen.  In fact, I was pretty much awestruck by the whole thing, finally seeing with my own eyes the works of masters like Michelangelo and Raphael.

Here, let's do the time warp...

Or how about Raphael throwing Dante Alighieri into one of the Vatican murals.  Dude’s wearing red, and rocking some serious olive branch action.

I would write more….

… but I’ve got a ticket to an audience with Il Papa Francesco in the morning.  Not to mention, I’d have to somehow cover the territory spanning the 500 pictures I took today alone.  The Italian word of the day today, children, is andiamo—  GO!

Unplug.

Me and my big goddamn mouth.  Cortana was sick as Hell last week so I quarantined myself to the couch to prevent getting whatever bastard plague that’s getting passed around her office like a bad case of crabs at Caligula’s place.  No such luck, I’m afraid, because once we hit the highway for our departing flight in Toronto– I started to sniffle.  I told myself, sure, my immune system is going to go full-on Duke Nukem on this thing because I will it so.

Then we got on a nine hour flight…  that felt like it was being piloted by the Marquis De Sade.  Apparently I’m one of those people whose illnesses decide to do a fat Sheenpile of blow the second they hit 40,000 feet.  I tried to sleep, and yeah, that was as futile as resisting the Borg (when they first came out and actually were damn near unstoppable).

My immune system can kiss my ass.  My darling wife claims to have licked my keyboard the day I went into quarantine, so there’s that not-serious-but-still-happening blame game.  However, 9 hours of sniffling agony later where the only part of me that didn’t hurt was the tip of my elbow (a la Indiana Jones), I was treated to this:

I LOVE THIS SHOT.

Anyone wanna venture what mountains these are?

Now, I don’t coddle the weak– and that most assuredly includes myself– so I informed my family that I wanted all the drugs.  I wasn’t going to deal with some pansy-ass plague while I’m in Rome.  Fuck that shit right in the face.  So I doped up and shrugged 85% of that shit off like a boss.  The other 15% was due to a combination of adrenaline, sudoephedrine, ibuprofen, afrin, and no fucks given.  I’ve already snapped over 200 pictures (been here roughly 5 functional hours), and I’ve come to notice something–

— Italian drivers are the most bizarre combination of courteous, calm, and fucking insane.  Now, mi scuzi, uomini et donne….  morto famme.

I may post later.

In the meantime—

I have the most explainable boner right now.

I TOUCHED THE FORUM DOORS.

Unplug.

I may have known about this trip since, oh, 2013ish– but when you stop at AAA to pick up your Euros, shit gets real.  When you make the phone calls to make sure your plastic will work on a different continent, it starts to really set in.  Holy shit.  I’m going to Rome.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Julius Caesar.  Love this guy.

The look on his face! That’s the “aw fuck!” look!

That’s right, I’m actually going to set foot on another goddamn continent for the first time.  Let me relish this; don’t judge me because this shit’s business as usual for you.  Yeah, I’ve been on a plane before– but this?  I guess I’ve suppressed nearly a year’s worth of excitement, and I finally had it set in yesterday after leaving the office.  Now it’s here.  It’s real.  I’m officially on vacation.  I suddenly have a lot of excitement.

I’m not talking “I’m gonna go party with the old guard” excitement.
I’m not talking “Holy shit, I’m going to graduate college!” excitement.  (Some of you really get that one.)
I’m not talking “CANOE TRIP!” excitement.
I’m not talking “dick in a box” excitement.
I’m not talking “I got published” excitement.
I’m not even talking “I’m getting married” excitement.  (Guys, take note of what I just did there.)

This is a level that hasn’t hit me in…  I don’t know, too long if not ever.  As if a week in Rome wasn’t already a sticky spot in my pants, my parents went ahead and landed us a Papal audience.

Although he'd probably take me as his apprentice....

No, not that one. The good one.

I don’t give a rat’s ass what your religion is or is not– you can’t tell me that you can’t appreciate the sum of architecture, art, and splendor all around the Vatican.  All if which I will record here.  That’s right, kids, I’m taking this motherfucker on the road!  … or would that be air?

Oh… and fuck my fitness goals.  I’m coming back at least 20lbs heavier from this Roman holiday.

Because Italy.

Now ‘scuse me, I need to get back to packing to head back to the motherland.

Unplug.

One trait of mine that I truly value is my ability to yank myself out of any situation and dissect it from a third person’s point of view.  No, I’m not about to confess to hiding some form of schizophrenia– but seeing how I fancy myself a writer, I’ll at least give you credit for attempting to Sherlock Holmes my ass.  Digression aside, I was watching Anthony Bourdain while doing the laundry and stamping wedding invitations, and I realized that he does pretty much exactly what I want to do.

Ladies and gentlemen– ruling the world would be great (and I’d make a grand dictator on an awesomeness scale of Peter the Great, complete with my own Drunken Synod), but I know what I want to do every time I watch Bourdain. I want to travel the world, experience it without a tourist-y crusting, generally be awesome on a global scale, and write about it.  Judging from my adventurous nature, amiable personality, warped sense of humor, and chameleon-esque social skills, I’d have a winning show too.

Now we go back to the first paragraph… the gigantic “However…” rears its fugly head.

Same difference...

… you get the idea.

I look back at my last decades and realize that I couldn’t take it back if I wanted to (and yes, it hurts to put that in the plural because more than one decade mentioned is considered functional).  I glanced at Cortana while I typed this, and realized that if shit hadn’t hit the fan the way it did, the spray pattern wasn’t exactly right, or the chips hadn’t fallen as they did– she wouldn’t be here.  So, in that respect, I win.

Suck it, multiverse counterparts.

That said, let’s play in hypotheticals.  I was born and raised in Jamestown, NY— a now dying city in the puckered asshole of the Rust Belt.  Since I was born, the city’s lost a humongous chunk of industry– and at least 7,000 in population.  I guess this is what happens when your major employers pack up and leave, and your governing officials decide to base your economy off of HUD residents (but that’s another rant entirely).  Seriously, look at the demographics in the link, it’s no wonder why a town of now 31,000 has–  count ’em– five rent-to-own companies.  However, the area is beautiful; it’s where my great grandparents ended up after they took a boat from bella Italia.  It’s always going to be “back home.”

One advantage to having been raised in a smaller community is that you generally learn responsibility for your own actions– whether you like it or not.  If you get caught doing something stupid, illegal, or you’re a general-purpose douchebucket: everyone eventually knows about it.  This isn’t the eerily personal type of rumor mill like you get in a small town, this is the kind of personal responsibility that fades as the population grows.  I wouldn’t trade my sense of self respect, or I should say social accountability, for the world– or would I?

The answer is no.  Cortana reads this.

Don't judge me.

You get the point.

Word from the wise– if you were born and raised outside of major metropolitan areas, and have aspirations that are above the norm, it would do you well to not attend college in a tiny ass college town that’s less than an hour away.  Sure, everything’s familiar, but Jesus Highsticking Christ– everything‘s familiar when you do that.  Naturally, you pick up a few local colloquialisms and some sundry stupid shit.  As a bonus, you’re within striking distance of home should you really find yourself up shit creek without a paddle.  Other side of the coin: your cultural/entertainment/networking opportunities are just as limited there as the first 18-20 years of life.

I’ve essentially been stuck in the same corner of the country for my entire life, not including some pretty epic road trips, vacations, etc.  Erie wasn’t much of an upgrade, but hey–  it served its purpose in forging the amalgamation of misanthropy and awesome that is me.   Realizing this– I have also put a cap on what I can do (and where I can go) with my talents because my social network is comprised largely of people in similar boats to mine.  That’s not meant as a slight, it was never about the boats, because we keep each other afloat on a sea of booze and shenanigans.  Again, refer back to the amalgamation of misanthropy and awesome– my partners in liver abuse are part and parcel to having made me… well… me.

Patience, asshole!

Yeah, yeah, I know.

I never would have discovered my love of writing if I’d gone to Rutgers straight out of high school, with or without a major (I didn’t have one).  My covetous admiration of the Food TV and Travel Channel guys wouldn’t be as poignant as it is now, had I stayed within my shell– and solely pursued academia.  Shut up, liver, you don’t get to judge me.

Come to think of it, I have a feeling that I’d kick alternate-reality me’s ass.
But that’s another rant entirely.

So seriously, kids, go outside your comfort zone– not just figuratively– and I mean geographically.  Social networking and the glories of digital reach can only go so far on their own, and nothing can substitute for slapping skin.  There’s a fap joke in there somewhere, but I’ll let you have it.

Coulda, woulda, shoulda– still glad I didn’t.

Now someone give me a travel show, because my layman’s approach to not being a tourist while totally being a tourist would be freaking awesome to watch.  Not to mention, who doesn’t want to see me get shitfaced on every continent– then narrate it?

Unplug.

It’s Rant Time!

Posted: October 15, 2012 in Rant
Tags: , , , , ,

Before I get ahead of myself, I have a great degree of appreciation for Google.  This may come as a surprise to people that I am appreciative of any corporate entity, but seriously?  Google is king shit in my eyes, and this is probably why I’m about to snap script like it’s nobody’s business.  Disappointment is a Hell of a drug, baby, and I got a dose of it straight to the brain over the course of this weekend.  To the codemonkeys who created/update Google Maps, and Google Navigation– you should be ashamed of yourselves.  I mean ashamed.

How, may I ask, can a company that has spearheaded the brilliance that is Android put out a homesick miscarriage like their navigation application?  It’s common knowledge that Google Maps is more than fallible, in fact it lies with the dexterity of a campaigning politician.  I’ve had it try and tell me hotels are somehow lodged within solid rock faces (totally aside from trying to send me across roads that no longer exist).

I wish.

Yeah, no… would have been nice, though.

Getting an erroneous location is bad enough, and it’s downright maddening if you don’t even have a cell signal to call someone and figure out where in the Nine Levels you really are.  Then again, nobody just gets a location anymore and plots a course old school– oh no.  We get to deal with that abomination of Google’s next level of Fail.  Where the map app just lies, the navigation app outright trolls.  Don’t believe me?

Check this this screenshot out, and then take into account this weekend.

Trolling level?  Over 9000.

Notice where the arrow is– there’s no way to see when you’re getting trolled until you realize it made you take a detour FOR NO REASON. Mind you, this detour was two lefts (one off a “main road” and then BACK onto it).  You can’t even say it was a “shorter” route.

So, on Saturday, I’m running late for a wedding– go figure, right?  Me?  Late?  That’d never happen…. unless it was a day that ends in “y.”

I’ll pause for the dumb kids to get that last quip.

Ok, time’s up– this isn’t public school, and I don’t coddle the weak or the lazy.  So with the failtacular screen capture prefacing Saturday’s shenanigans, I’m running late.  I fired up my phone-side GPS, and then put the hammer down.  I had about a half hour to shave off what appeared to be a 150 minute drive…  What I didn’t realize is that this digital abortion was going to route me through a bunch of back roads (through two college towns, no less)– instead of allowing me to take the fast route on multi-lane highways.

The best part?  Well it’s threefold.  Firstly, the stupid program has inexplicably locked itself in top-down 2D mode with North at the top of the screen (as in, no sweet looking navigation like the screenshot, and no directional rotation following your blip).  That I can deal with, I learned how to read a map before there were GPS programs in everything-– so no biggie.  Secondly, same problem mentioned in the freaking caption above– I had no damn idea this bass-ackwards, inbred, bastard child of a real navigation app was trolling again.  Of course, thirdly– there’s that godawful, complacent, digitized bimbo voice…  it’s almost like they want to egg on every case of road rage out there, just by letting their biggest mistake also have a wrath-inducing voice.

Google, step up your game, because this kind of mongoloid fail is something everyone associates with AOL.  Come on, does this make any goddamn sense:  if the program recognizes that there’s a publicized bridge outing yet routes you across it anyway and doesn’t offer alternate routes, what the Hell’s the point of acknowledging the hazard?

Bridge out?  No biggie.

Newsflash: This is NOT my car.

It’s a cute novelty that I can read the license plate on a car with “street view,” but when your maps are outdated from the Carter administration…  what the Hell.  Are you assjacks only hiring Tom Tom rejects?  Because I’m sure not going with confidence here.

When in doubt, suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuure, Google it!  Google knows everything–

— unless, you know, it’s trying to route you the wrong way down a one way street.  Recalculate this, bitches.

Unplug.